THE managing director of a Bromsgrove vehicle hire company fleeced taxpayers by fraudulently applying for a £5,000 grant through Worcestershire County Council.

Loyd Chandler, of Wildmoor-based Priority Hire, admitted the fraud at Worcester Crown Court today (Wednesday).

The 46-year-old, of Clarence Walk, Cheltenham, applied to the county council for a ‘European Growth Fund’ grant after providing quotes from Areca Design for setting up an e-commerce website for his company (£5,520 plus VAT), and for supplying Apple Mac computers (£7,848 plus VAT).

The fraud happened between January 1 and August 1, 2015.

Sally Cairns, prosecuting, said Chandler was supposed to supply invoices and statements to prove the money had been paid to the relevant supplier.

When Areca Design contacted the defendant to arrange the delivery of computers, he told them he had decided not to go ahead with the work.

But Areca appeared on ‘doctored’ bank statements even though they had not carried out any work.

Areca Design contacted the council and the defendant was interviewed by police in June 2016 and December 2016.

Mrs Cairns said: “At that point he admitted sending bank statements to the council and said the payments were marked ‘Areca’ because he said they were destined for Areca.”

In June 2017, the council wrote to him for details of the company that had undertaken the work, asking for invoices, but Chandler did not reply.

Mark Sheward, for Chandler, said the defendant started Priority Hire in 2009.

He said a condition of receiving the grant was that it was spent on a nominated provider but Chandler discovered he could get the same service at a lower cost.

Mr Sheward said: “What he should have done is gone back to them [the council] and said ‘I have found another provider who can do it cheaper - these are the details’.”

Chandler claimed he did not spend the grant on himself but on the company; he paid himself an £11,000 wage for 80 hours of work a week.

Judge Anthony Lowe fined Chandler £1,000 and ordered him to pay £5,000 compensation to the council plus £535 costs.