Garage manager from Romford walks free after cheque scam

A “DISGRUNTLED” garage manager caught on camera cashing stolen company cheques worth more than �2,000 was spared jail yesterday (Thursday December 9).

Martin Lovelace, 35, abused his position as service manager at Peter James Motor Group in Dagenham, east London, by writing out a total of �2,192 payable to himself.

But the trickster was photographed by a special camera at the Cheque Station in Romford when he cashed the payments on February 16 and 22 this year.

Lovelace, of Priory Road, Harold Hill, admitted the fraud and was immediately sacked from the garage, which is based in nearby Dagenham.

Recorder Michael Turner sentenced the fraudster to 150 hours of unpaid work.

The judge said Lovelace’s admission of guilt had saved him from going to prison.

“Had you not pleaded guilty, the sentence would have been one of 26 weeks’ immediate custody,” said the judge.

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Lovelace, who has a string of previous convictions for burglary and theft, was ordered to repay �2,088.40 he received in cash from Cheque Station and pay �500 costs.

Prosecutor Arizuna Asante had earlier told the court: “Mr Lovelace was employed by the Peter James Motor Group.

“He had a rather elevated position, a position of trust within that company.

“Two blank cheques were taken from a company chequebook.

“The controller of the company describes not only the cheques but also the stubs being removed from the chequebooks.”

Mr Asante said Lovelace had abused his position at the car servicing firm in Rainham Road South.

“Certainly, as far as an aggravating feature is concerned, Mr Lovelace was in a position of trust and that trust was breached by virtue of what he did,” said the barrister.

Howard Cohen, defending, claimed Lovelace stole the cheques because he had been left out of pocket by his employers.

“They were amounts of money he says he was owed for work he had done,” he said.

Mr Cohen said the dad-of-one had paid out his own cash for parts and for the recovery of an impounded lorry but had not been reimbursed.

“This is a classic case of a disgruntled employee,” said Mr Cohen.

Lovelace admitted two counts of fraud and two counts of possession of articles for use in fraud.

Two charges of theft were ordered to remain on his court file