A letting agent who stole rent payments and tenants’ deposits involving sums of £27,000 has been jailed for ten months.
Chandra Patel, 34, was the director of Giraffe Residential, in New Malden, Surrey, which shut down in December 2014. Landlords were left to compensate tenants for the loss of their deposits.
Patel pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent trading last month, and has now been sentenced.
Kingston Crown Court also banned him from being a director of a company for seven years.
His defence, Charlene Sumnall, said that a custodial sentence would put Patel’s wife and three children at risk. His youngest is just five months old.
She said: “Mr Patel acknowledges that by his actions he had caused distress and worry to those that he defrauded.
“When it [Giraffe] fell into financial difficulty, which is reflected in his pleas, he took money which he knows he shouldn’t have.
Judge Timothy Lamb said: “He traded well until 2014, when things took a turn for the worse. The defendant decided to help himself to the monies which he held in trust.
“I take into account the defendant’s family circumstances, I take into account that he is of previous good character.
“However, the defendant became part of a system of retail letting which was created in order to instil trust and confidence. He was plainly not fit to play a part in the system. He abused his position.”
Patel is expected to appeal his sentence, the local paper reports.
It is the second case we have reported on this week of letting agents jailed after stealing client money.