Andrew Bowden and Paul Randle of Exe Leisure have both been given suspended jail sentences for “outrageous” trading practices

The directors of a defunct boat brokerage Exe Leisure have been handed suspended prison sentences at Exeter Crown Court.

Founder Andrew Bowden and salesman Paul Randle were found guilty of fraud amounting to £156,000, the North Devon Journal reports.

In sentencing, Judge Phillip Wassall said: “They were spinning out stories to customers about where their money was or their boats were which were plainly untruthful. It was really outrageous.”

Both men will avoid jail after they were handed two-year suspended sentences. Mr Randle, who pleaded not guilty at his trial in September, will also carry out 240 of community service.

Exe Leisure went into administration in 2006, following a string of financial difficulties, which drove the pair to dishonest practices, the court heard.

These including buying boats on hire purchase and then selling them on, taking deposits for outboard engines that were never delivered, and selling boats on behalf of customers and keeping the money.

Prosecutor Malcolm Galloway cited the case of a Sea Ray 215, which was sold for £17,500 in August 2005.

When the owner enquired about the sale in January 2006, she was told that the money had not yet come through, a statement that the prosecution called “an utter lie”.

Mr Randle pleaded ignorance to the firm’s financial difficulties, telling the court: “I always thought if everything went completely wrong there would be enough money to pay everybody. That was what I believed.”

  • SpawnyWhippet

    How did these guys get away with it? Fraud seems rife in this industry. I was ripped off for 40k by Yacht Delivery Ltd, run by a conman called Stephen Bruce Miller. He is still working in the industry yet the court appointed bailiffs are unable to locate him…