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Bankrupt escapes custodial sentence

Thursday, 30th August 2001.

A BANKRUPT former businessman from Haverhill narrowly escaped jail after being prosecuted by the Department of Trade and Industry.

David Spittlehouse, 50, of Hawthorn Road, Haverhill, admitted four offences of breaking restrictions imposed by the law on undischarged bankrupts when he appeared at Ipswich Crown Court.

The offences included acting as a company director, obtaining credit, failing to preserve accounting records and failing to keep proper accounts.

Judge John Devaux ordered him to perform 140 hours of unpaid work under a community punishment order, pointing out he could have sent him to jail for up to two years.

But he warned Spittlehouse that any breach of the order would result in a jail sentence of between four and six months. The judge banned him from being involved in running any company for the next five years.

Craig Rush, prosecuting, said Spittlehouse was first declared bankrupt in 1978. He was made bankrupt twice more, in 1992 and 1995.

He had been required by the Official Receiver to sign a form setting out his obligations under the Insolvency Act as a bankrupt. This meant he was limited to obtaining a maximum of 250 credit.

His last venture, trading as First European Services, a haulage company, had gone bust to the tune of more than 74,000, less than two years after it started trading in February 1997.

Mr Rush said: "The defendant's wife Susan and mother Daphne were appointed as director and company secretary."

But his wife was a full-time schoolteacher who had no experience of running a haulage company. The defendant was the real manager of the company, said Mr Rush.

Defence barrister Mohamad Haque said there was a stage at which the defendant was unclear as to whether he was still to regard himself as an undischarged bankrupt.

Banks lent him money and he assumed they would not have done this without the necessary checks to ensure it was in order.

Debts were accrued after one of his containers was broken into and goods worth up to 3,000 were stolen.

On the question of keeping accounts, Mr Haque said: "He did not keep proper records, but he had some. He says his fault was perhaps in not keeping a copy of the records."

Spittlehouse was a man of good character, with no previous convictions, who did not seek to defraud anyone, said Mr Haque.

He added: "Mr Spittlehouse feels devastated and does not want to go near a limited company again."

Haverhill Weekly News

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