Woman jailed for £12k skip company fraud

A woman who “showed no remorse” after attempting to defraud a business owner out of £12,000 has been jailed for 26 weeks.

Rebecca Byford, 32, from Blackthorn Way, Leavenheath, was sentenced at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court having been convicted of presenting a false document to Basildon County Court following a trial in her absence in April.

The court heard that Byford had contacted Emma Elkin, née Williams, in January 2008 regarding her Pink Skip Company business in West Bergholt.

Colette Harper, prosecuting, said: “Nothing more was heard until May that year and, in July, she agreed she would purchase the business for around £30,000, with an initial fee and monthly payments of £950 to Mrs Elkin up to December 2010.”

Mrs Harper said that, in December 2008, the payments stopped and Mrs Elkin tried to contact Byford, who she said was avoiding her.

“In March 2009, the defendant made an agreement that £12,000 would be paid back for outstanding money owed,” said Mrs Harper. Three months later, Mrs Elkin’s solicitor sent a letter to Byford requesting payment.

“She said there was no such agreement in place,” said Mrs Harper. Mrs Elkin began civil court proceedings against Byford that year, during which she produced a letter, signed by Darren Lee, Paul Hunter, herself and Alastair Gordon, stating she had paid the money off.

“Mrs Elkin said she met two of the people the defendant claimed had signed the document, who said it had been forged,” said Mrs Harper. The county court found in Mrs Elkin’s favour and ordered Byford to repay the money.

Lyndon Davies, in mitigation, said: “The offence involves one document with fraudulent signatures on it confirming the money had been paid when it hadn’t.”

He said the county court had ordered the outstanding amount of £1,000 be paid.

“She is a single mother with two children. She doesn’t have the support of her partner and, while the pre-sentence report says she didn’t show any remorse, these procedures themselves have had a significant impact on her and I would suggest she is a low risk of reoffending,” said Mr Davies.

In sentencing, Gill Evans, presiding magistrate, said: “It was pre-planned, you created a document brought to a court of law and you have showed no remorse.

“We were unable to find any mitigating factors. You are fortunate we have not sent this to the crown court for a longer sentence.”