'Serial fraudster' jailed for £20k business debt
A CONMAN who left a trail of unpaid business debts adding up to £20,000 has been jailed.
Paul Watkins, aged 39, stole cheques and forged them so they would be paid into his company account, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
He then wrote a string of cheques for his promotions company knowing they would eventually bounce.
Judge Paul Darlow, describing him as a "serial fraudster", jailed him for 32 months.
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Watkins, of Tamar House in Devonport, had earlier admitted 15 offences of fraud, two of theft and one of obtaining services by deception. He asked for two similar offences to be taken into consideration.
He even committed some of his cons after his initial arrest.
Jason Beal, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Watkins set up Fat Man Promotions in August 2011.
He added he stole cheques from legitimate businessmen he knew and then wrote cheques in their names into his new company accounts.
Mr Beal said the fraud gave the impression he had funds in the account – but in fact the stolen cheques were from redundant accounts with no money in them.
He added he hired a generator and walkie-talkies for his business within three days of setting up his company. But he used cheques which were bound to bounce.
Mr Beal said the equipment was never returned and so he was charged with theft.
He added he went on to write a series of cheques for goods and services from companies including McMullin Motors of Hooe, Footprint Uniforms, Tom Dooley and PC World.
The court heard that in each case either the bank or the company was left out of pocket.
Mr Beal said he was arrested but committed more offences while on bail, setting up a new company, called Fix It Solutions.
He added police returned to arrest Watkins, who has been kept in custody since April.
Mr Beal said the total lost was just over £20,000.
Emma Birt, for Watkins, said Fat Man Promotions had been a "real company", promoting disc jockeys, running dance competitions and "fight nights".
She said he intended to pay back his debts when his legitimate income started coming in, but the turnover could never catch up with what he owed.
Miss Birt urged the judge to suspend any prison sentence.
But Judge Darlow said Watkins had similar convictions from 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2010.
He added he had committed 18 offences and asked for two other matters to be taken into consideration in six to eight months from autumn 2011 into spring 2012.