THREE men involved in the fraudulent selling of deals for telephone equipment have been jailed at Ipswich Crown Court.
Christopher Boughton-Fox, 48, of Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, was chairman of Business Telecom Ltd drawing a £600,000 salary. He was jailed on Wednesday for seven years after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud.
The court heard that sales staff at the company systematically lied to persuade customers who were cold called to sign up for lengthy and expensive contracts. Among the victims were Rattlesden, West Row and Combs Ford primary schools.
Boughton-Fox was in court along with Jonathan Parrish, 42, of The Hills, Reedham, who was sales director. They denied the charge while Neil Debenham, 28, of East Somerton, near Great Yarmouth, who had worked as a salesman, pleaded guilty.
Parrish was jailed for five and a half years and Debenham for three. The three were banned from being directors of a limited company for seven years.
The court heard that customers who signed up to the Great Yarmouth-based business were told they could cancel the deal after a year but discovered they were instead committed to a seven-year contract.
Prosecutor David Wilson said that ‘dishonesty was endemic’ within the company and sales staff were under considerable pressure to achieve results even if it meant lying.
Schools, charities and businesses in Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk and Hertfordfshire were taken in by claims which included the false claim that the company was part of British Telecom.
Russell Clarke, headteacher at Combs Ford, spotted irregulartities in contracts and alerted Suffolk County Council’s legal departmnent.
He said after the case: “I am really glad they have been found guilty and have been given a custodial sentence.
“They caused not only financial hardship but an awful lot of stress and upset to people. It was a callous thing to have done.”