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Great Lumley boss of North Yorkshire firm RHM Tank Sales jailed over fraud
A COMPANY boss who masterminded a £440,000 fraud to keep afloat his failing business was yesterday described as “the epitome of the hardworking Englishman”.
Peter Robinson, 68, was jailed for two years and eight months for what a judge called a persistent confidence trick which required a considerable degree of planning.
His barrister argued that Robinson should be spared prison because he immediately confessed to the crimes and had resorted to them only to rescue his ailing business.
Ian West, mitigating, told Teesside Crown Court that Robinson was an “otherwise stout citizen” and had “robbed Peter to pay Paul” during the latest recession.
His North Yorkshire-based company RHM Tank Sales had suffered a slump in orders and his “over-optimistic thinking” led him to believe he could ride out the dip.
Robinson sold tankers and trailers he did not own or that did not exist, got further loans for vehicles he already had on finance and forged his partner’s signature.
David Brooke, prosecuting, told the court that the business in Boroughbridge had done well until 2006 when Robinson began his catalogue of lying and cheating.
When he was arrested in August last year, the trader told police he should have closed it, but made what he described as an amateurish attempt to keep it running.
Mr West told the court: “It was not about greed. There are no houses in Marbella. He lived in a modest house in North Yorkshire at the time he ran this business.
Married Robinson, now of Norwich Close, Great Lumley, near Chester-le-Street , admitted 13 charges of fraud, theft and obtaining property by deception.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, said: “He had to embark on a deliberate series of dishonest representations and had to create false documents to maintain the charade.”
Mr West said Robinson cashed in his pension and sold his house in Knaresborough – using his half of the profit – to pay some of the companies he owed money to.
“That is the nature of the man,” said the barrister. “He continues to work. He doesn’t have to do that, but he does because he feels obliged to those people he has let down.
“Mr Robinson is nearly 69 years of age and since he left school at 16 has been in gainful employment in this business, making an honest living from a hard day’s work.
“He’s the epitome of the hard-working Englishman.
He would have been at retirement age [when the fraud started] and he could have just folded the business, but he didn’t.
“As he said to the police ‘I have been through five recessions’ and all of them he got through. He tried to get through this one by financing vehicles through dishonesty.”