Published Monday, 11 August 2014
Campbell asked customers for deposits, mainly in cash. (© Getty)
Robin Campbell, 38 and of Hillhall Park, Lisburn, pleaded guilty to a single charge of fraud by abuse of his position with the Charles Hurst Group.
Prosecution lawyer Joseph Murphy told Belfast Crown Court that Campbell had been taking deposits from mobility customers "when no deposits were required.''
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland heard that Campbell was employed by Charles Hurst in its Citroen mobility section.
The court was told the fraud had been carried out for around a year up until November 2013 before it was detected.
Mr Murphy said an internal audit revealed that around 48 customers had paid deposits totalling £37,751 which should have gone to his employers.
"He told his manager about the fraud and said he had gambled the money and had no means to repay it,'' said Mr Murphy.
However he added that "what led to his confession is that he was aware that an audit was being carried out. He knew he would be found out and that is what prompted him to confess.''
The lawyer said Campbell would take deposits from customers involving sums ranging from £200 to £2,000.
"This defendant would insist on early deposits and in the main he would ask for cash deposits.
"He would then take these monies for his own personal use,'' added Mr Murphy.
The Belfast Recorder heard that Campbell was later arrested and interviewed by police following the internal company audit.
He told police that he confessed to a close friend in August 2013 about his fraudulent activity and was advised to tell his employers.
Defence barrister Kelly Doherty said that in October 2013 Campbell knew "the music was going to stop'' when he became aware of the internal audit.
"He was always aware that the fraud was going to be detected and decided to confess because he could not longer live with himself.''
Ms Doherty added that the father-of-three had turned to abusing alcohol following the breakdown of his marriage and then had used his customer's cash deposits to fund his gambling addiction.
She told the court that Campbell was not in a position to make full restitution and had offered £980 to Charles Hurst, but this was not accepted.
"I would ask the court temper justice with mercy and suspended any imposed prison sentence,' added Ms Kelly.
However, Judge McFarland told Campbell that he was "in a position of trust'' within Charles Hurst and this was an aggravating feature of the case.
"Trust was given to you by your employer to handle monies and you breached that trust,'' said the Belfast Recorder.
"I have considered all the circumstances in this case and I do not consider it appropriate in these particular circumstances to suspend a prison sentence.''
Campbell was sentenced to 12 months with half to be spent in custody and the remainder on licence following his release from prison.
© UTV News