A letting agent who ran a franchised branch closed down in 2015 after police were called in to investigate financial irregularities at the business has been jailed for 26 months for theft and fraud. He has also been disqualified from being a company director for five years.
Thirty-six-year-old Peter Bell (pictured, left) was jailed at Northampton Crown Court earlier this week after pleading guilty to 11 counts of theft and four counts of fraud while running his branch of Enfields in Northampton on Mercer’s Row.
His letting agent branch of the franchise network was closed overnight in August 2015 after Enfields directors were informed of a complaint against the business to police in Northampton.
It subsequently transpired that there was a £92,000 gap in the branch’s finances which he had defrauded from an “untold” number of tenants and landlords across the city.
During the investigation it also transpired that Bell and his former partner Rebecca Kirton had used tenant deposits and landlords’ rent to finance a luxurious lifestyle including an expensive rental property, leased luxury cars and holidays, including a trip to watch the Monaco Grand Prix.
Kirton was also sentenced by the judge after she pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud. She received a four-month jail term suspended for 12 months, and must also do 175 hours of unpaid work.
Ian Soulsby, a director of Enfields, told a local paper that he was “very pleased with the outcome and the thorough investigation by the police,” he said.
“Enfields has taken extra precautions since this case began to make our systems more secure.”
After the sentencing, DC Paul Houghton-Draeger from Northampton Police told ITV News that the outcome was the result of a lengthy and complex investigation involving a large number of victims who had lost “substantial amounts of money,” he said.
“Mr Bell’s behaviour represents a massive betrayal of that trust and it is hoped that this result will go some way to making things right.
“In the meantime, the investigation continues and efforts are ongoing to recover some of that money and compensate those who have lost money through their dealings with Mr Bell and his company.”