His outgoings had increased by £6000 a month, leaving him £20,000 in the red
A garage owner from Yorkshire has been handed a suspended prison sentence after he admitted faking a burglary at his premises in Wakefield.
Leeds Crown Court heard how Martin Ong ransacked his office, cut through metal bars, removed or smashed equipment and cut a hole in the roof to make it look like thieves had targeted his garage, Martin’s Auto Centre.
The act of deception was uncovered when a Fiat Doblo van, supposedly stolen from the garage, was captured on CCTV in convoy with Ong’s own vehicle.
Police were called to the premises in July 2022 after a member of the public reported a break-in. The court heard how Ong “feigned” tears as he spoke to the police.
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Ong was quick to confess when quizzed by the police, and has admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Like many garages, Martin’s Auto Centre had been hit by the pandemic, soaring costs and a recent rent hike. He told the probation officer, ”I’m a better mechanic than I am a criminal.”
In mitigation, Ong’s barrister, Jemima Stephenson, told the court his outgoings had increased by £6000 a month, adding: ”He accepts it was an incredibly stupid decision but it was a decision he made out of a lot of financial pressure.
”He had not really thought it through, it really doesn’t have any real sophistication to it.”
Judge Simon Phillips KC gave Ong a 12-month sentence, suspending it for 18 months, before ordering him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
He told Ong: “You are ordinarily an individual with a strong moral character and positive work ethic. For many years you have done your level best for staff and customers.
“Individuals who come before this court for perverting the course of justice in almost every case go to prison immediately. But there are exceptions, and in your case, for reasons entirely valid, the court accepts you acted out of character.
“There’s no excuse for that. You went about trying to remedy your financial position that was not only wrongful but criminal and inexcusable. But you were under pressure at the time and not coping well with the stress and anxiety you were suffering which came to a head when bailiffs came to your home address.”
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