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Agent who defrauded landlords and tenants spared jail while her victims must bear their losses

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An agent who defrauded landlords and tenants out of thousands of pounds has been spared jail, while her victims will receive no compensation.

Becky Westby, who ran Aspire Lettings in Padgate, near Warrington, failed to return deposits and did not pass on rent. Altogether, she defrauded landlords and tenants out of £5,509 between July 2014 and April 2015.

On Friday, Westby, 33, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court where she was given a six-month sentence suspended for a year and ordered to complete a rehabilitation activity of up to ten days.

Recorder Louis Browne turned down an application from the Crown Prosecution Service for compensation for her victims plus costs. He said it would be pointless as Westby was bankrupt.

Westby, who turned up at the court with suitcases, became a director of Absolute Lettings in May 2011. In May 2014 she resigned, telling clients that the firm had sub-let properties without permission, failed to return deposits and not passed on rent payments.

She encouraged the owners to move their properties to her new business, Aspire Lettings.

However, she went on to commit frauds, and towards the end of the offending period, “made a large number of personal withdrawals” from the company account.

Prosecuting barrister Catherine Ellis added: “She treated the money as if it was her own to spend for her own purposes.”

Westby, who was described as being of previous good character, had earlier admitted ten counts of fraud following an investigation by Warrington Trading Standards, while a further 15 charges will lie on the file.

Sentencing her, Recorder Browne said: “In essence, what you did was misappropriate monies given to you for specific purposes for your own use.

“I’m prepared to give you a chance by suspending this sentence, and if you show good character for 12 months you will hear no more about this.

“If you do commit any further offences in this period you are liable to be brought back to court, and you are likely to be sent to prison.”

According to Companies House, Aspire Lettings was dissolved a year ago.

The company is unrelated to firms with similar names.

http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/news/15371807.Letting_agent_who_defrauded_landlords_and_tenants_out_of_thousands_of_pounds_spared_jail___and_will_not_pay_victims_back/

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