The £25,000 banana scam: North East boss ran fruit-based fraud for more than a decade

Bananas. Picture by Pixabay.
Bananas. Picture by Pixabay.

A fruit marketing boss has avoided jail over a £25,000 banana scam he ran for almost a decade.

Over a nine year period, trusted David McGivena, who was head of banana marketing at his firm, sold the fruit at below trade price in exchange for cash or benefits in "kind" such as cigarettes.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 52-year-old's fraud cost his company JR Holland Fruit and Veg, in Gateshead, where he had worked since 2001, £25,000 in lost profits.

McGivena, of Seaham Gardens, Gateshead, who was on a £35,000 salary at the firm, admitted fraud.

Mr recorder Simon Goldberg told him: "You abused the trust placed in you because, between 2007 and 2016, you undertook a scam whereby you sold bananas to traders at below market value for your own benefit."

The court heard McGivena admitted he had sold the stock at a cheaper rate to around eight different traders.

The judge said the fruit company remained profitable while McGivena was in his post, despite his dishonesty but added: "You accept, over the whole of your fraudulent activity, the loss it caused was around £25,000."

McGivena was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 100 hours unpaid work.

The judge said he accepted McGivena was "genuinely remorseful" for what he did and has been affected by the "significant shame" he had brought upon himself.

He added: "This was the clearest possible abuse of position of trust and responsibility."

Christopher Knox, defending, said McGivena has never been in trouble before and has since found new employment.

Mr Knox said: "To his credit, he has got back on his feet and managed to get back into good employment, sensible employment, working hard and regained his previous place in the labour market."