Conman is ordered to repay more than £17,000 to victims

Police promoting safety messages at Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth

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A FRAUDSTER who conned unsuspecting victims out of more than £17,000 has been ordered to pay the money back.

Craig McCluskey sold a couple a BMW he had bought on credit for £10,500 – then lied and said he had repaid the loan.

The 42-year-old, of The Pastures, Fareham doctored a vehicle check form to hoodwink the buyers.

Then when they conducted their own checks after buying the vehicle in September 2010 he repeatedly insisted there was no outstanding finance on the car.

But in fact he still owed cash to Carlisle Finance Ltd and had promised payments which never materialised.

McCluskey was contacted by the Kent couple he sold the car to and eventually sent them a cheque in November – but it bounced.

One of the couple was then involved in a crash and the car was written off.

Their insurance company only paid out part of the money owed.

McCluskey bought a car from his then employer South Downs Motor Homes in July last year.

He paid a deposit but still owed £1,215.

So when an unsuspecting customer visited the business the next day and put down a £2,000 deposit on a motor home, McCluskey took an extra £1,000 from the victim’s credit card towards paying off his car.

And when another customer visited the firm to buy a new wheel, McCluskey said he could do the job at a better rate and pocketed a further £97 payment.

The wheel never materialised.

McCluskey, who has four previous convictions for 12 offences, was convicted of three counts of fraud and one count of theft.

Roderick James, defending, said: ‘He obviously regrets the offences.

‘He recognises this was a wholly wrong thing to do.’

Sentencing McCluskey at Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘These offences, I’m told, are because you found yourself in financial difficulties and debt.

‘In my view, given your previous convictions and the scale of this offending, involving several different offences over a period of time, the custody threshold is passed, but in all the circumstances I think I can suspend the sentence, particularly because now, fortunately, you are able to pay compensation so that no-one will lose out as a result of your dishonesty.’

McCluskey was sentenced to four months in jail suspended for 12 months and put under supervision for a year.

He was told to pay £500 costs and £17,593.97 compensation. He must take part in a thinking skills programme.