A BANKRUPT father who stole his son’s identity to fund an online shopping spree has been spared jail.
Jeffrey Dobbs, 57, reactivated a dormant account opened by his 28-year-old son, Jonathan, after the pair fell out and his son moved out of his home.
Dobbs, of Campion Close, Newport, then used his son’s Next card to steal £876 in goods and services including a £499 42-inch TV which he later pawned for just £150.
The bankrupt father faced jail at Newport Crown Court yesterday but was given a two-year conditional discharge after pleading guilty to nine counts of fraud.
Judge David Aubrey told him: “You were involved in a thoroughly dishonest course of action using a moribund account your son had with Next.
“I hope your plea today will go towards healing the rift with your son.
“You passed the custody threshold but I’m not going to send you to prison today.
“It is in effect a suspended sentence. If you breach any of these offences you will be sentenced for them and face the possibility of going to prison.”
The court heard Dobbs had been given cautions for shoplifting in 2010 and heroin possession in 2008.
But his barrister, Imogen McCabe, said he had used the Class A drug to relieve pain after he hurt his back in a car crash in 2005.
Crown prosecutor Ieuan Norris said that Dobbs originally denied pawning the LG TV, telling officers “I don’t know”, “It wasn’t me” and adding “Would that be the one that was broken?”
But he later changed his story after his son received a letter from a debt collection agency sent on behalf of Next in June 2011.
His barrister said he had been on benefits since the car crash and had been left devastated after going bankrupt.
Ms McCabe told the court: “He became bankrupt in 2005, he tells me, which was devastating and turned his life upside down.
“Not long after that his partner left him and of course he had a fall out with his son.
“They’ve not been on speaking terms since roughly 2008.”
The case was listed as a trial but Dobbs changed his plea, admitting nine counts of fraud between October and December 2010.