A security firm boss hired guards for prestige projects including construction work at Heathrow Airport and a Coventry hotel – and then repeatedly failed to pay them.
John Gaines, who used a number of false names to make his business seem bigger than it was, cheated workers out of around £58,000 on contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Prosecuted by the Security Industry Authority, which is responsible for regulating the private security industry, he had pleaded not guilty to a total of 22 charges of fraud.
But after almost nine hours at the end of a three-week trial, a jury at Warwick Crown Court found Gaines, 72, of Masters Road, Leamington, guilty of all 22 charges.
Remanding him in custody after rejecting an application by Gaines, who represented himself during the trial after sacking his barrister, Judge Anthony
Potter told him he would be receiving ‘a substantial prison sentence.’
Prosecutor James Fletcher had said that Gaines’s frauds involved contracts he had obtained to provide security guards for four construction sites between May 2012 and January 2016.
They included a Tesco distribution centre, construction work at Heathrow Terminal 2 in 2013, and the Old Hall hotel in Keresley Heath, Coventry, between December 2015 and January 2016.
Gaines also falsely claimed on business cards that his company Crown Accord Nationwide was SIA approved, when it was not.
With each of the projects, he advertised on the internet for SIA-licensed guards – and when people applied he insisted on them starting immediately, without even serving notice on any previous job.
In doing so, he took on people who were vulnerable because they were desperate for work, but repeatedly failed to pay them, or made only limited payments, coming up with a variety of excuses for withholding the money they were due.
The charges related to two guards who had worked for him at a Tesco distribution centre being built in Reading, 14 men covering the Heathrow Terminal 2 construction, two providing security during renovation work on a large house in Cheshire, and three guards at the Old Hall hotel.
And after the jury’s verdicts, Judge Potter observed: “It is estimated that something in the region of £58,000 was not paid, while Mr Gaines was being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
The judge told the jury he would not be sentencing Gaines straight away, for two reasons: “One, to have a pre-sentence report so I may know a little more about him; and second, I want to give him the opportunity to have representation.”
Judge Potter remarked: “This kind of sustained dishonesty was exploiting some extremely vulnerable individuals, some of whom had only recently come to this country, desperate for money.
He was taking cynical advantage of that for his own benefit.”
Gaines said he would take the judge’s advice and try to get legal representation for the next hearing, and also wanted to obtain medical reports.
Asking for bail in the meantime, he claimed he was having ongoing treatment for his kidneys, and was due to undergo further extensive tests – although the court had earlier heard the only medication he was on was statins.
And Gaines insisted: “I will guarantee that whatever date you set, I will be here.”
But remanding him in custody until the sentencing hearing in mid-November, Judge Potter told him: “You are going to receive a prison sentence, and it’s likely to be for many years.
“You have turned up every day for the trial but, as I indicated, we are now at a different stage because you’ve been convicted of extended, systematic dishonesty.
“It is inevitable you are going to receive a substantial prison sentence, and I am very concerned that you may be tempted to put off the day when you receive that sentence.”