A conman who used a builder’s credit card to acquire expensive drills has narrowly avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Magistrates heard how Stephen Wildgoose, 36, used the credit card at builders’ merchants in Workington and Penrith, claiming that he was entitled to use it to buy equipment.

He admitted three offences of fraud by false representation and two thefts. Prosecutor Pam Ward told the court how Wildgoose committed the offences in October last year.

In the first offence in Penrith, he walked out of the store with four drills worth £1,275, while just two days later he left with two drills worth £570.

During the third fraud Wildgoose got cash for stolen goods – cameras stolen from the builder whose credit card he had used to pay for the drills – by trading them in for £110 at the Cash Generators store in Carlisle.

The goods were a Nikon camera, two lenses, and a digital radio, stolen from the home of the credit card’s owner by Wildgoose.

Mike Pope, representing Wildgoose, said the defendant was part of a two-man team involved in the crimes – the second man having been jailed for 14 years for a serious armed robbery.

“Wildgoose was very much the fall guy,” said Mr Pope, pointing out that his client had not benefited from the crimes. The second man had been working for the man whose credit card was wrongly used.

Mr Pope said Wildgoose, of Harrington Road, Workington, had fallen under the influence of the other man, Mark Jewitt, who was a long-term heroin user.

Accepting that Wildgoose had a terrible record, Mr Pope said he had battled mental health issues to find himself stable accommodation in Workington and had impressed staff he worked with from the Croftlands Trust.

Magistrates imposed 36 weeks custody but suspended the sentence for 12 months. They also ordered that Wildgoose pay compensation of £1,584 to the firms which sold him the drills, which were not recovered. He must also observe a 7am to 7pm curfew for the next 12 weeks.

Jewitt, 42, of Rydal Crescent, Penrith, was given 14 years – 10 for robbery and four for gun possession – after acting as a getaway driver for a terrifying robbery in Penrith.



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