A Leamington interior design company boss who callously ripped off customers to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds has been jailed.
Jane Jobson, 54, of Browns Lane, Coventry, was handed a prison sentence of two years and three months by Judge Stephen Eyre QC, who said she had shown no remorse for her dishonesty.
The sentencing of Jobson had been adjourned from December last year after her co-defendant Terence Naylor had failed to turn up for the hearing at Warwick Crown Court.
On that occasion a warrant was issued for his arrest – and at the resumed hearing, with Jobson again alone in the dock, it was revealed that he had sadly committed suicide.
Jobson had denied aiding and abetting Naylor, who was her partner as well as business partner at the time, to take part in the management of Jane Jobson (Contracts) Ltd while he was an undischarged bankrupt.
She also denied fraudulent trading by carrying on the Leamington-based business with intent to defraud its creditors – but was convicted of both charges at the end of a five-week trial.
Naylor, 55, of Naylor Crescent, Nantwich, Cheshire, had pleaded guilty to taking part in the management of the company while an undischarged bankrupt and fraudulent trading.
He also admitted identical charges in relation to Jane Jobson (Interior Design) Ltd, based in Regent Grove, Leamington, which had gone into liquidation as Jane Jobson (Contracts) Ltd began operating from the same address.
During Jobson’s trial prosecutor Simon Davis said: “The prosecution case is that Miss Jobson and Mr Naylor were trading fraudulently with the intention of defrauding their customers.
“They offered interior design and building work, and took large deposits.
“On occasions deposits were over £10,000, so we are talking big money, and on occasions the customer got absolutely nothing or, on occasion, something, but not what they ordered.”
On the question of whether Jobson was aware of what was going on, Mr Davis said that although she was the sole director of the two companies, they were seen as joint owners, and were not just in a business relationship, but were partners at the time.
Jane Jobson (Interior Design) Ltd was incorporated in January 2011 and went into liquidation in March the following year, owing nearly £100,000.
Jane Jobson (Contracts) Ltd, was incorporated in February 2012 and wound up in January 2014, owing around £400,000.
Mr Davis said that in 2011 a ten-year lease had been signed for the premises in Regent Grove, with an annual rent of £19,500 – but by July 2013 the landlords were owed £32,000.
The shop was fitted to a high standard to provide comfort and ‘an air of respectability,’ but invoices from suppliers which included the Polished Floor Company in nearby Regent Street went unpaid.
With many disgruntled customers, Naylor attended a county court hearing to face a creditor’s claim, before the company went into liquidation and re-emerged as Jane Jobson (Contracts) Ltd.
But a further succession of customers paid deposits and payments ranging from £10,000 to as much as £27,000 in one case, and £58,000 in another, for work including kitchens, bathrooms and extensions which were never completed.
One couple, Mr and Mrs Chung, paid a £15,000 deposit for an extension, ‘but then there was silence.’
Eventually they told Jobson they were concerned about the project, and that they did not want their money back, but did want the actual kitchen supplied, which they said they would fit themselves.
Jobson agreed to that and said she would go to the house to design the kitchen – but failed to show.
Mr Davis told the jury: “Both defendants were equal trading partners in the company, and both knew what the other was doing. They were taking large deposits and there were subsequent failures to order goods or do work.”
And he argued that if Jobson did not know of Naylor’s situation initially, and was not aware of what was happening with Jane Jobson (Interior Design) Ltd customers, she must have known and been involved in what went on with the successor company.