A conman who defrauded customers of his gardening business out of more than £84,000 has avoided prison – and revealed he is writing a book about it.
George Knowles appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court for sentencing and was given 250 hours of unpaid work plus a 12-month supervision order.
Knowles has vowed to pay his victims back and said he was writing a book about the episode.
In a statement he said: “Firstly, I’d like to say that I take full responsibility for the failure of my business and thus the subsequent loss of jobs for the staff and of course, the deposits of our customers.”
Knowles said he would now focus on a number of things including the health and wellbeing of his family, adding: “I will continue to work on getting myself into a position to pay back all monies owed.
“It’s extremely regretful that I was unable to return the deposits when the customers cancelled their outstanding work. Returning their deposits is something I haven’t stopped working towards.
“I will continue to work on my book on all that has passed. I have seen many wild and fanciful claims made in both the media and on social media, so it’s time some common sense was brought to the table. After all, there are two sides to every coin.”
Knowles, 32, of Parkneuk, Gamrie, previously admitted 23 charges of fraud relating to his gardening business Gorgeous Gardens, obtaining £84,810 from different customers between August 2016 and February 2017.
Sheriff Andrew Miller cited Knowles’ partner suffering from an aggressive form of bone cancer and relying on Knowles for care as the main reason for not sending him to prison.
He said: “In my view, but for your partner’s serious medical condition and the likely impact of a custodial sentence upon her and upon your daughter, a significant custodial sentence would have been merited in this case, despite the other mitigating factors I have identified.
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“It is clear that, were the court to impose a sentence of imprisonment, the victims of your offences would be no more likely to receive their money back.
“However, such a sentence would be likely to have a devastating impact upon your partner and daughter. It is this factor which leads me to conclude that a custodial sentence would be inappropriate.”
Erik Dahl, 56, paid George Knowles £7,500, inheritance money as a deposit for Gorgeous Gardens to carry out work which was never completed.
Following the hearing Erik said: “Given the seriousness of his crimes and the amount of money he defrauded people of, getting away with 250 hours of unpaid work seems ridiculously cheap. He had no qualms about going to elderly people and taking their money.”