A WEARSIDE dad ran up a bill of almost £10,000 after failing to pay for nursery care for his children.
Daniel Watson and his wife Natalie presented themselves as ‘people of means’ to the owners of the nurseries, Durham Crown Court heard.
Watson, 32, claimed he was a financier or lawyer who drove an Aston Martin and gave no indication he could not pay the bills.
The court was told Watson, Ormonde Street, High Barnes, defrauded seven nurseries out of a total of £9,828.77.
Among those to lose money was Clever Clogs in Belmont, Durham City, which lost £2,350, and Castle View Nursery in Chester le Street, which lost more than £2,400.
Other nurseries to fall victim to Watson included Dubmire Day Care in Fencehouses, First Steps in Great Lumley, and Yellow Wellies in Haswell. Kate Dodd, prosecuting, said: “Many of the businesses were relatively small and could ill-afford to lose the fees.
“Several of the owners said that after a while they feared they would not be paid, but were reluctant to withdraw care because the children were clearly benefiting from it.”
Watson admitted seven charges of fraud between August, 2009, and July, 2012.
He was previously jailed for 18 months in 2010 for defrauding £40,000 from a teacher he befriended.
After his arrest for the nursery fraud, Watson went on the run to the Dominican Republic.
He was arrested again when he returned to this country in August of this year.
No charges have been made against Natalie Watson, who is believed to still be in the Dominican Republic.
Richard Bloomfield, defending Daniel Watson, said: “He accepts full responsibility for this offence. Mrs Watson very much trails in his wake.
“The total sum was not huge as frauds go, and he has been in custody since August.”
Judge Christopher Prince sentenced Watson to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, a 12-month supervision order, and 200 hours of community work.
The judge told Watson: “You are a con man, a confidence trickster.
“The nurseries could ill-afford to lose the fees, but it is to their credit they continued to offer care out of concern for the welfare of your children.
“You have been to prison before, and have spent time in prison on remand.
“If you con people again, you will go to prison again.”