Former Bookable Holidays director Johnny Pollard was spared jail on Thursday afternoon after pleading guilty to fraud.
Sentencing Pollard, magistrates in Newbury gave him a 12 week suspended sentence and ordered him to do 240 hours of unpaid work.
The case related to holiday bookings taken by Pollard using a new internet-based booking system he had advised Bookable to bring in to replace Viewdata after he started working for the online agent on a three month trial in July.
In passing judgement magistrates took account of Pollard’s early guilty plea and the fact he had paid all the £5,591 back plus, the court was told, an additional £409.
However, the court heard he had two previous convictions for four similar offences, one dating back to July 2005 relating to charges of obtaining property by deception and theft, for which he received community service, and one dating back to 1995 in relation to a fraud offence.
Prosecuting counsel told the court that the aggravating factor in this case was the breach of trust by someone in a senior position within a company.
The offences Pollard pleaded guilty to could have carried a maximum custodial sentence of 12 to 18 months and could have been passed on to the Crown Court for sentencing.
But magistrates decided to go along with sentencing recommendations in a pre-sentence report compiled after the previous hearing at which he pleaded guilty on November 17.
Pollard, 39, wearing a dark blue suit and red and white striped tie, spoke during the 30 minute hearing only to confirm his identity and that he understood the conditions of the sentence. He was ordered to pay £85 court costs.
He was warned that if he breached the conditions of the sentencing by committing any crime, including anything minor such as jumping a red light, or not carrying out the unpaid work, that he would serve the 12 week sentence.
The court had heard how the offences came to light after Pollard’s association with Bookable had ended in early August when directors Jason Dwyer and Craig Ashford had conducted a review of his spending on his company account.
Days later the firm’s accountant drew their attention to a suspicious booking for £2,400 and Dwyer tracked down the customer, named Paul Shaw, over the phone who confirmed he had made the booking with Pollard directly and had received emailed confirmation from him along with other emails from different individuals supposedly associated with Bookable.
Confronted about the booking Pollard initially denied all knowledge of it but eventually confessed and said he had been in a bad place due to his marriage breakdown, illness and the death of his grandfather, the court was told.
He agreed to pay all the money back plus another £1,000 that related to the rent of a private property in Reading.
However, when further suspicious bookings came to light the matter was referred to the police by Bookable Holidays.
The court was told Pollard was currently not in work and the case brings to a close a colourful period in travel for the former On The Beach commercial director.
Pollard, who has fought testicular cancer, rose to prominence while at On The Beach sitting on the membership committee of trade association Abta and twice standing to become a director, but failing to attract enough votes on both occasions.
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