Former director of Norwich letting agency stole nearly £100,000 from a landlord, court hears

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: Adrian Judd.

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: Adrian Judd. - Credit: Archant

A director of a letting agency managing a large portfolio of Norwich properties for a landlord stole nearly £100,000 to help fund his drug and alcohol addiction, a court heard.

Stephen Webster, 38, who ran The Letting Business, stole the cash from the landlord whose numerous properties he was meant to manage, Norwich Crown Court heard.

John Morgans, prosecuting, said the thefts came to light after the landlord became dissatisfied with the way his portfolio of around 95 properties was being run by TLB and had figures checked by an accountant, who found that in total £97,498 was missing.

He said the matter was reported to police, who discovered Webster had also pocketed a deposit of £695 from another landlord.

Webster, of Norwich Road, Dereham, admitted the thefts which were in breach of trust and took place between 2014 and 2015.

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The court heard he had a previous conviction for fraud in 1999 when he worked for Camden council.

But after hearing that Webster had now sought help for his drink and drug problem and paid back the £695 to one landlord and more than £30,000 to the other landlord, Recorder Frank Burton imposed a 20-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered him to do 200 hours unpaid work.

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He told him he had come close to going to straight to prison and said: 'You have let your family down.'

John Farmer, for Webster, said that he had voluntarily sought help for his drink and drug problem and had repaid as much money as he could before the matter came to court.

Mr Farmer said: 'Before there was any question of being prosecuted he had made £30,000 repatriation.'

He said Webster had also continued to try to pay cash back and said: 'He faced up to his responsibility very early on.'

He said if Webster went straight to prison it would be 'devastating' to his family and he was also involved in the care of his father who is ill and had to make regular trips to hospital.

He said his family continued to stand by him.

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