Anthony Taylor, 57, of TT Tours, spent the money on stays including at London's Savoy and Radisson hotels, shopping trips to Ikea and jeweller H. Samuel, gambling, restaurants and payments to a girlfriend.
The defendant, of Willenhall, has been sentenced to four years in prison and banned from being a company director for 10 years. He previously pleaded guilty an offence each of fraudulent trading, unfairly offering package holidays without security, and engaging in unfair trading relating to holidays and outings the tune of £65,985. Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that Taylor suffered from poor mental health.
Mr Ben Mills, prosecuting, said: “On July 7, 2019 Anthony Taylor incorporated TT Holiday Ltd. He had operated as a sole trader for a short period before that. Taylor did provide a number of holidays in the later part of 2019, but then throughout the latter half of 2019 he sold a large number of customers a variety of day trips and holidays for 2020 which he then failed to provide.
“In particular they included a cut-price five-day coach holiday to Torquay which customers were told included breakfast, a five-course evening meal, free bar between 7pm and 11pm and two excursions.”
The court heard that Taylor, who had gambling issues, had convictions dating to the 1980s including five for obtaining property by deception in 1995; 16 for theft, fraud, making false representation in 2007 relating to £12,000 stolen from employer which he spent on gambling resulting in him being jailed for 12 months. He was also convicted of shoplifting in 2018.
Mr Charles Crinion, mitigating, said: “He fully understands the seriousness of the situation.” Three hundred customers had booked to travel to Torquay but the coaches never arrived. Other failed bookings included trips included the Isle of Wight, Cotswolds, Bath, Grand National Fleetwood, Welshpool and Bridgnorth.
Taylor went to ground and left his “unwitting” assistant, who the court heard was not involved in the deception and has not been charged with any offence, to tell angry customers that they would not be going away.
Speaking after the sentencing Angela Harrold, 71, of Moxley, who was in court to see Taylor sentenced told the Express & Star that she paid the defendant £200 for the Torquay trip for two.
Mrs Harrold said: “For me that wasn’t the problem.
"But when we went to the meeting at Bilston Town Hall there was an 84-year-old lady who had handed over nearly £4,000 from a pensioners’ club that she ran. She was so distressed that she was shaking. She collapsed outside afterwards. The following day she was found dead in her bed.”
“The four years is not enough. Lots of people have lost money. I can’t understand why he was allowed to set up in Bilston market. He should have been vetted by someone.”