A MAN who fleeced his pals out of thousands of pounds after volunteering to organise a dream holiday blew the money and flitted to Canada.
David Brown, 31, said he would book flights to America and hire a motor home, telling his friends it would cost £1,115 each.
Between the end of summer 2010 and April 2011 he collected £5,556 from five friends from Normanton, Castleford and Pontefract.
But Brown spent the cash paying off his debts and fleeing to Toronto.
This week, Judge Sally Cahill gave him a suspended prison sentence but told him: “This, in my view, is an extremely mean crime. You, along with five of your friends, planned what would have been a special holiday which was going to cost quite a lot of money.
“Those involved had to save up and trusted you to take care of the money and pay for the holiday.”
Prosecutor Georgina Coade told an earlier hearing: “The defendant told his friends that he had arranged the flights and motor home. He advised them where their flights were from and to. He said he had all the documents and tickets. He arranged to take them all to the airport and said they would be flying on the morning of May 5. It was all fictitious.”
On May 2 the group found out from Brown’s girlfriend that he had left the country. One of the victims got in touch with Brown through Facebook and he admitted carrying out the deception.
Leeds Crown Court heard Brown, of Skelton, near York, was arrested when he returned to the UK three weeks later. He told police he was £40,000 in debt and was having problems with bailiffs.
He pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud by false representation.
He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, ordered to pay his friends back and told to pay £200 costs. He must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
Chloe Fairley, for Brown, said her client had worked on a farm until October 2010 when he had an accident.
He had been expecting a compensation claim to be settled quickly but had not got the money in time.