Treasurer Matthew Mann jailed after stealing £35,000 from his neighbours
A BUILDING treasurer who stole around £35,000 from his neighbours has been jailed for 28 months.
Matthew Mann used cash that was meant to be for the maintenance and running of Cheltenham apartments in Pittville Lawn to pay off his high-interest loans.
Gloucester Crown Court heard the 37-year-old man, who lived in the block of flats, had been made redundant twice in one year and borrowed cash he could not afford to pay back.
The treasurer of Seagrave Management Company, which looks after the Pittville Lawn flats, wrote 102 cheques to himself between May 14, 2008 and August 26, 2010.
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Prosecutor Christopher Smyth said Mann was foiled after suspicions were raised when a cheque to get the flats painted bounced. He initially denied the allegations, but eventually admitted 16 offences of fraud.
Mr Smyth said he forged the signature of 87-year-old retired ship captain Michael Cuff, who was the company chairman, as two people were required to sign off any payments.
The married expectant-father did put around £3,500 back into the company account when he was worried it would go into the red.
Lloyds bank has since repaid the residents, but it has been left out of pocket as a financial investigation showed Mann had no assets and his home was in negative equity so he was unable to sell it.
Defending, Andrew Hobson, said Mann had not become the treasurer to commit the fraud, but the former recruitment worker "succumbed to temptation".
Mr Hobson said: "He was a victim of recession when it was biting hard. When he lost his job for the first time he indulged himself in high interest loans from companies like Wonga.
"He was visited, telephoned, hassled and harassed and so the second time he was made redundant he crossed over to criminality.
"When he was confronted with the final sum (he had stolen) – he was astonished."
Jailing him Recorder Robin Belben said Mann was "robbing Peter to pay Paul".
One resident in the building, who did not wish to be named, said it caused a lot of stress for some residents.
She said: "It is a really sad situation all round and obviously caused a bit of tension at the flats. He was clearly just desperate for money, but it caused a lot of stress and anxiety for some people."