A crooked ticket tout who stole thousands of pounds he had received from people in Warwickshire and across the Midlands for sport and concert tickets has been jailed.
Alan Bott had denied charges of fraud, but pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to an alternative offence of theft from his duped customers.
Bott (44) of Balkwell Green, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, who also admitted two other theft charges and an attempted burglary, was jailed at Coventry Crown Court for a total of 21 months.
Prosecutor Paul Allman said Bott had sold tickets to sporting events and concerts for some time, with customers paying up front and then receiving tickets or entry being arranged.
And Judge Philip Gregory asked: “Was he what is commonly referred to as a ticket tout?”
That was confirmed by Mr Allman, who said many people had received tickets they had purchased - but in 2015, 21 victims paid a total of £10,870 for tickets they never received, mainly for concerts in and around the Midlands.
Around the same time Bott also stole £300 which he had borrowed from a man called Barry Goldby and never paid back.
When he was eventually arrested following a complaint to Warwickshire Police, he made full admissions, explaining that he had ‘fallen on hard times’ and needed the money.
After entering his guilty pleas to those offences, the hearing had been adjourned because the court was told he was also facing matters of theft and attempted burglary in Tyne and Wear.
Mr Allman said that after the ticket money thefts Bott had got a job with King Asia, a wholesale food supplier based at a unit in Victoria Road, West Industrial Estate, Hebburn.
As part of his job he was entrusted with a van to pick up and deliver various goods, and in October last year he was given £2,000 by his boss Craig Coats to pay for a quantity of vegetable oil he was to collect.
But when he returned Bott made an excuse about having to leave, saying he would return later – but never did so, and kept the £1,391 in cash he should have paid for the oil.
Some time after Mr Coats had finished work later that day, he received a call from his mother to say that the unit had been broken into, and when he went back he found extensive damage to the shutter door and a window.
And when he then reviewed footage from a CCTV camera, he recognised Bott, who had a previous conviction for fraud offences in 2011, as the would-be intruder.
Mr Allman said that at the end of November a police officer was at a McDonalds on the Felling by-pass near Gatesheasd when he was approached by Bott who confessed that he had tried to break into the unit.
William Douglas-Jones, defending, said: “Mr Bott’s two best pieces of mitigation are his guilty pleas and his remorse, and he handed himself in having attempted to commit the burglary.”
The judge commented: “This was repeated thefts from 21 people.”
Mr Douglas Jones responded: “He is anxious to pay back to those who have lost the money his offences have caused. At present he’s on universal credit, but he has a job offer. He would wish to pay £500 a month towards any compensation.”
But jailing Bott, Judge Gregory told him: “You are a mature man and a thoroughly dishonest one.
“You worked as a ticket salesman, and over the best part of a year you offered to supply tickets to 21 people not intending to honour the commitment to supply those tickets.
“From those 21 people you stole on average £200 from each of them.
“You were subsequently able to obtain employment and, entrusted with £1400 of your employers’ money, you made off with it and, to rub salt into the wounds, later that day you returned, intending to break into your employer’s premises.
“For this catalogue of dishonesty, bearing in mind your age and previous convictions, I have come to the conclusion that only a custodial sentence can be justified.”