Gosport Car salesman ran up £8,000 hotel bill using stolen cards

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A CAR salesman who used his customers’ credit cards to pay an £8,000 hotel bill – and then fled abroad – has been jailed for six months.

Philip Hudson had spent up to four months at a four-star hotel.

He used the credit cards to pay for the £8,153.01 cost of his stay at the Alveston Manor Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Hudson, 37, of Clayhall Road, Gosport, disappeared to Malta and was arrested at Gatwick airport when he returned to his this country on December 22 to visit relatives.

He spent Christmas behind bars.

Hudson appeared before Nuneaton magistrates in Warwickshire and admitted three charges of making a false representation for personal gain.

Prosecutor Philippa Cowley said Hudson had no previous convictions but had breached trust ‘basically to pay for very expensive accommodation’ at the hotel.

Nick Aldridge, mitigating, said his client had been a car sales manager in the Portsmouth area ‘on and off’ for 15 years and was earning £30,000 to £40,000 annually. He was married with two children.

But after being made redundant, debts mounted, he fell behind with the mortgage and was under ‘massive’ financial pressure. His house was repossessed.

Mr Aldridge said Hudson contacted his cousin, who worked for Mercedes-Benz in Solihull, West Midlands, and managed to get a job with the car dealership, while staying at his cousin’s home.

‘He was very much on the breadline,’ he said. ‘He was not able to stay there after a while.’

Mr Aldridge said Hudson, who was working to clear debts and to pay maintenance for his children, could not afford to pay the hotel.

‘He was caught in a terrible Catch-22 situation,’ said Mr Aldridge.

‘He knew he could not pay the bill.

‘He buried his head in the sand and went on and on.

‘He had lost his home, he had lost his wife, was not seeing his children and was living in a different part of the country. He was self-medicating. He was drinking far too much.

‘He was staying at the hotel every night. He was in a situation he did not know how to get out of.’

Mr Aldridge added: ‘He made the wrong decision to use customers’ cards to pay the bill.

‘He knows it was the wrong thing to do.’

The solicitor said Hudson went to Malta ‘to get his head straight’ and had a job there. He said he had shown genuine remorse and his fiancée and 13-month-old child had returned to Malta.

Presiding magistrate Vivienne Ayriss told Hudson he had breached his relative’s confidence and used his good name to gain employment, adding: ‘This was a deliberate act.

‘You evaded prosecution. Without your early plea we would have sent you to crown court for sentence.’

Mrs Ayriss said the offences were so serious that only custody could be justified. ‘You used a relative’s good name and the customers who gave their details to you to finance your own lifestyle.’

No orders were made for compensation.