‘Walter Mitty’ character from Norwich defrauded company out of nearly £55,000
10:44 16 July 2012
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A ‘Walter Mitty’ type character who defrauded a company out of nearly £55,000 while claiming to be running a wind turbine business has walked free from court.
Andrew Davidson, of Causeway Close, off Heigham Street, Norwich, was handed a 3-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months at Norwich Crown Court on Friday, after previously pleading guilty to fraud.
The court heard that the 65-year-old’s company, UK Maglev Wind Turbines Ltd, won a contract in summer 2009 to supply 65 eco-friendly hybrid street lights to Kovere Energy Ltd, a subsidiary of Kovere Energy Inc, based in Georgia, USA, despite the fact his company comprised merely him operating a website from his council flat.
The lights would have been built by a Chinese company and shipped to Lagos in Nigeria. In autumn 2009 Kovere Energy paid £54,672.18 ($91,692) into Davidson’s bank accounts, and he assured the company via email and in person that the lights were being shipped.
But no lights were ordered or supplied, and the directors of Kovere Energy made a complaint of fraud to Norfolk police in 2010.
The hybrid street lighting would have comprised street lamps equipped with solar panels, wind turbines and batteries - a green alternative to conventional mains powered street lighting.
But Davidson spent the money he was sent setting up an office in Curtis Road, Norwich, which employed six staff and interns, and gave the impression of being a rapidly growing company.
Detective Inspector Brian Beech, of the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Crime department, said: “In reality their only significant contract was Kovere’s and the money that should have been used to source wind turbine components was frittered away by Davidson.
“Unfortunately crimes like this are on the increase and those involved in international trade are encouraged to ‘look behind the website’ and undertake proper due diligence research into the background and viability of potential trading partners.”
For Davidson, Michael Clare said he was a ‘Walter Mitty’ type character rather than a clinical fraudster.
He said: “It was not fraudulent from the outset. His pipe dream was not coming to reality and the money he received he used to run the company and pay the wages. He wanted the company to survive so his false representations to the company continued. His son was killed in a car accident in 1989 which led to a nervous breakdown, which he has not fully recovered from.”
Judge Nicholas Coleman handed him a 240 hours unpaid work order, a 6-month curfew from 7pm to 7am, and banned him from holding directorships for three years.
A timetable for an order under the Proceeds of Crime Act was also agreed.