Skegness man lied to police in bid to cover up for fraudster

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A witness who gave a false statement to police in an attempt to cover up for fraudster Jason Bentley has been jailed for eight months at Lincoln Crown Court.

Mark William Smith, the former manager of Kart World in the resort, was quizzed back in March 2015 about nine new go-karts which were found at the business.

Smith claimed he bought the go-karts in Sheffield paying for them with £6,400 from his savings.

But Justin Wigoder, prosecuting, said police inquiries revealed that it was Jason Bentley who bought the go-karts using some of the £400,000 he took from his elderly neighbour Patricia Reilly.

Smith subsequently made a further statement claiming he only lied to protect the business rather than to cover up but the prosecutor said that was also untrue.

Smith, 47, of The Meadows, Skegness, admitted a charge of doing an act intended to pervert the course of justice.

Judge Simon Hirst said he was sure that Smith had been deliberately assisting Jason Bentley in money laundering.

The judge told Smith: “It seems to me that you knew perfectly well there was an investigation going on and the effect of your statement was to deny the criminal liability of Jason Bentley. It seems to me that there is no alternative in this case but to pass a sentence of immediate imprisonment.”

Mark Watson, in mitigation, said that Smith had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and had no previous convictions.

He said that Smith has since been sacked by Kart World and added: “He is more stupid than he is malicious.”

Smith appeared in the dock alongside Jason Bentley’s mother Denise Philbin, 66, of Connaught Drive, Chapel St Leonards. She had previously denied theft of £5,495 from Mrs Reilly but was found guilty by a jury following a trial earlier this year.

She was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years with a 12 months supervision requirement.

Last month Jason Bentley, 45, and his wife Rebecca Bentley, 45, of Elliott Way, Chapel St Leonards, were found guilty by a jury of defrauding 96-year-old Patricia Reilly out of more than £400,000.

Jason Bentley was jailed for six and a half years and Rebecca Bentley for four and a half years.

Judge Hirst told them they had committed a grotesque breach of trust and over two years they had fleeced Mrs Reilly out of virtually every penny they managed to get their hands on.

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