A TOWN businessman has told how eight years of hard work was almost destroyed after his scheming nephew left him thousands of pounds in debt.
Ronnie Eve had to borrow £2,000 to save his barbers’ shop after his nephew David Shepherd stole his identity to run up thousands of pounds of debt in his name.
Shepherd, 25, who Mr Eve trusted to help out with his business, also stole £3,395 from the shop’s bank account.
After appearing before a judge last week, the scheming fraudster was warned if he doesn’t pay back some of the debt in the next six months he faces a spell behind bars.
But Mr Eve, 43, said he would be quite happy to have seen Shepherd locked up after revealing his betrayal almost ruined his business.
Mr Eve, who runs The Barbers Shop, on Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool, said: “I’ve had to borrow £2,000 to save my business.
“It very nearly finished me. I’m gutted at what he did to me. I treated him like a son.
“He was in my shop every day, that’s how he got my details.
“There wasn’t a day went by I didn’t see him. He was just robbing me blind behind my back.
“He’s just a thief. I would have been happy to see him go to prison, definitely.
“I would have had some justice.”
Mr Eve reported Shepherd to the police after he started getting letters from debt companies for more than £2,500 of goods which it emerged his nephew had ordered from various catalogue companies.
Shepherd had set up the accounts in his uncle’s name and had the goods sent to his home address.
“I was in debt and I didn’t know anything about it,” said Mr Eve.
He was also stunned after bank statements showed numerous withdrawals from his business account.
Mr Eve had entrusted Shepherd with paying in the shop’s takings, but he then withdrew cash from ATM machines.
Shepherd was found guilty of six counts of fraud totalling £6,359 between October 2011 and May 2012 after a six-day trial at Teesside Crown Court in October.
The court also heard that Shepherd stole £2,054 from his grandmother, Mr Eve’s mother, when she was on holiday by using her bank card.
He was given 12-weeks prison suspended for 18 months by Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court.
Ian Mullarkey, mitigating for Shepherd, now of Newton Aycliffe, said he had been under “considerable pressure” to people he was indebted to.
Mr Mullarkey added sparing Shepherd jail would allow him to save money to repay his uncle.
He added: “The probation service says he presents a low risk of reoffending. The prospect of facing this custodial sentence has clearly had a salutary effect on him.”
Deferring sentence for six months, Judge John Walford said: “Clearly what you did to your uncle demands a prison sentence.
“The question at the moment is whether I should suspend that sentence.
“This was offending motivated by greed which cost your uncle, and he’s entitled to be repaid.
“I’m going to give you the opportunity to amass sufficient money, not to discharge the whole amount, but I expect a substantial part of the £6,000 which you defrauded your uncle out of, to be saved up and available by the end of the six months.
“If that’s not the position you will go immediately to prison.”