A SALESMAN who took revenge on his former bosses by ordering almost £300,000-worth of cars on their account, was ordered to pay just £260 as punishment.
Paul Donkin, who was fired from Durham Hire and Sales in Langley Moor, logged into an online auction with his work account and bought 24 cars in a drunken rage.
Newcastle Crown Court was told that if the firm had been forced to pay, it could have bankrupted the company.
Christopher Rose, prosecuting, said the 42-year-old was given the passwords when he worked for the firm between June and August last year.
He accessed the British Car Auctions (BCA) from his home in Mount Pleasant, near Washington, and bought 21 vehicles in less than 15 minutes, on August 31.
The following day, he logged in again and bought a further three vehicles.
The combined total value was £294,850.
The court heard how BCA noticed the ‘unusual’ transaction and contacted Durham Hire and Sales, who told them it was not genuine. Mr Rose said: “This was essentially a fraud committed in an act of revenge.
“In the short term it could have caused chaos.”
Donkin was tracked down via his computer’s IP address and made full admissions.
He told police he was owed wages and claimed he had tried to make contact with the company directors to resolve the matter.
Mr Rose added: “He was in dispute with his former employer about unpaid wages, when in fact the money had been paid into his account on the Sunday, though he hadn’t yet realised this.”
Donkin, now of East Bridge Street, Mount Pleasant, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to two charges of committing fraud by false representation and two of misusing a computer to gain access to unauthorised data.
Shaun Routledge, defending, said: “As soon as that number of vehicles were ordered the auction company were aware that there might be something wrong.
“There was never any prospect of the orders being fulfilled.
“He did a stupid thing over the course of 24 hours to make life difficult for his former employer.”
Mr Routledge added that Donkin’s eight-year marriage had recently broken down and that his world appears to have “fallen apart” in the last 18 months.
He appealed to the judge to give Donkin, who has no previous convictions and a strong work record, the opportunity to “rebuild” his life.
Judge Robert Adams, sentencing, said: “I see that his intention was not to cause loss to anybody and I am well aware that he has had difficult times recently.
“There is no suggestion that you intended to make gains for yourself, but you certainly did it in order to cause them difficulty and problems.”
Judge Adams imposed a 12-month supervision order on Donkin and ordered him to pay £200 court costs and £60 victim surcharge.