'Cavalier' brewery founder jailed for fraud
PUBLISHED: 13:24 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:41 20 November 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
The founder of a Norwich brewery who duped a businessman into paying £30,000 for equipment he never owned showed a "cavalier" approach to business, a court has heard.
Patrick Fisher, 39, has been jailed after he pleaded guilty to two fraud charges, including one which saw him submit false invoices.
Fisher, of School Avenue, Thorpe St Andrew, who was previously a director of Norwich's Redwell Brewery, admitted one count of fraud by making a false representation to Russell Evans between January 1, 2015, and January 31, 2017, when he claimed to own brewing equipment, when he did not.
Fisher founded the brewery in 2013 and left the business in 2017.
Jamie Sawyer, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday said Mr Evans paid £30,000 for fermentation tanks from his company, Norwich Craft Brewing Company, to one of Fisher's companies, the Craft Brewing Company.
But he said the equipment had not been validly transferred or sold and was not in the possession of Mr Evans who could not operate them.
Mr Sawyer said: "It wasn't the property of that company to sell to the Norwich Craft Brewing Company."
Fisher had also admitted a second fraud charge in that he made a false representation to Rita Turnbull between May 1, 2015, and October 30, 2017, by submitting false invoices for work done at the Lord Rosebery pub in Norwich, where Fisher had been a tenant.
The court heard Fisher had submitted invoices for £17,480 and £24,000 for work carried out at the pub which in fact had cost just £7,500.
Jailing Fisher for 12 months, Judge Katharine Moore said the offences were committed against the background of "cavalier business practice".
She said Mr Evans had been "duped" into paying £30,000 for fermentation tanks, which he never actually owned.
Judge Moore said Fisher had created a "false paper trail", which demonstrated a persistent deceit.
The judge recognised it represented a "fall from grace" for Fisher but said the offending was so serious only immediate imprisonment could be justified.
Andrew Nuttall, for Fisher, said the defendant was essentially a man of good character who had "held his hands up" by pleading guilty to the matters.
He said his relationship foundered, prompting "a lengthy custody battle" with his former partner which resulted in "considerable difficulties" for the defendant at a time when he was "embattled" in both his personal and business life.
Fisher is a director of the Norwich Craft Beer Company, and has been connected with a number of Norwich brewing businesses in the past, including Redwell Brewing and pubs the Mash Tun and Tap House.