A DRUNKEN ex-salesman posed as his former employers to order nearly £300,000 of cars after getting the sack.
Paul Donkin was asked to leave Durham Hire and Sales after just two months of working for the firm.
In a drunken rage, he used the company’s log-in details to buy 24 cars from an online trade auction.
Staff at the British Car Auctions website became suspicious with the large order and contacted the company in Langley Moor, Durham.
Police traced the orders to 41-year-old Donkin, who pleaded guilty at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court. to two charges of committing fraud by false representation and two of misusing a computer to gain access to unauthorised data.
Lee Poppett, prosecuting, said Donkin was given the passwords when he worked for the firm between June and August last year.
Mr Poppett said: “On August 31, he accessed the British Car Auctions website from his home address in Mount Pleasant and purchased 21 motor vehicles between 1.20pm and 1.35pm.
“On September 1, he again logged in with the same log-in details and purchased a further three motor vehicles.
“The combined total of all the vehicles was £294,800.”
Mr Poppett told the court that the company’s directors – who are supposed to sign off on any purchases from the website – said their firm would have gone under if the orders had gone through.
He said: “Perhaps that is where the greatest mischief lay.
“If those contracts were enforced, then that would have been the end of Durham Hire and Sales.
“The company would have collapsed and a great number of people would have lost their jobs.”
Donkin, now of East Bridge Street in Houghton, had no previous convictions
Michael Robinson, defending, said he committed the fraud in a “moment of madness”.
He added: “The truth is there is no loss, and if courts actually sentence on the basis of potential loss, that means everyone in here who has struck someone once could be sentenced for a very serious assault – because everyone who has struck someone once could have caused their death.
“But the courts deal with the reality.”
Mr Robinson added that Donkin knew the sales would not go through, but wanted to “give the company a headache”, as he was owed £1,400 in wages.
He said: “He spent the weekend in a drunken stupor and used information that he had with the purposes of causing them disruption.
“It did not cause them much disruption, as the auction house got in touch with the company and said, ‘do you really want this many cars?’”
Mr Robinson told magistrates that the case has led to the break-up of Donkin’s marriage, after police raided his house and took away computers and iPads.
Magistrates asked for the case to be adjourned until June 18 for the probation service to prepare a report about him recommending a sentence – taking in all available options, including a jail term.