A DISGRACED former South Warwickshire undertaker who escaped being jailed for fleecing people out of money paid to him for funeral plans and stealing charity money is finally behind bars.
Andrew Baker’s latest act of dishonesty was reported to the police after his victim was alerted by newspaper reports of his previous crooked exploits while running a funeral parlour.
And Baker was jailed after a judge at Warwick Crown Court heard his theft from a man who had paid him to collect a Jeep from France had been committed while he was subject to a suspended sentence for the funeral plan scam.
Baker, 54, of Elm Close, Pebworth, was jailed for one month after he had pleaded guilty to the theft of the £450 he had been paid to collect the vehicle.
But Judge Andrew Lockhart QC also imposed nine months of the 21-month suspended sentence he had been given at Worcester Crown Court in September 2014 – making a total of ten months.
Prosecutor Jason Pegg said in February 2016 Geoff Taylor-Robinson paid Baker £450 to collect a Jeep from France – but Baker made excuses for not going and kept the money.
When Mr Taylor-Robinson Googled Baker he found he was a convicted fraudster, with the offences for which he was sentenced at Worcester Crown Court having been reported in various newspapers.
He went to the police, and when he was arrested Baker accepted being paid the £450; but he claimed his truck had broken down, and that he had intended to repay the money but his phone broke, so he could not access Mr Taylor-Robinson’s details.
Mr Pegg said Baker had been handed the suspended sentence for offences of theft, fraud and retaining wrongful credit after offering unauthorised funeral plans while running an undertakers.
Baker, who traded as Cotswold Funeral Services in Stow-in-the-Wold and Honeybourne Funeral Services in Honeybourne at the time, had fleeced eight families out of around £15,000 and stole donations of about £180 left at funerals for the Air Ambulance and Police Benevolent Fund.
Aadhithya Anbahan, defending, said Baker had admitted the offence when he was interviewed, expressing remorse and asking the police for details so he could repay Mr Taylor-Robinson.
Pointing out that there were no breaches of the suspended sentence for 18 months, and he had complied with the requirements of the order, she asked the judge not to activate the sentence.
But jailing Baker, Judge Lockhart told him: “In September 2014 a judge decided to send you to custody for 21 months for serious offences involving the removal of money from people in very distressing circumstances.
“That judge would not have passed that sentence if he had not thought it necessary, but he passed it under conditions which allowed him to suspend it.
“The clearest indication would have been given that if you breached that order by committing further offences, it would be imposed. But 18 months into that sentence you offered to bring a Jeep home from France, and you took £450 to do so.
“I am faced with offending of a similar nature, you were taking money and not providing a service.
“I do not find it would be unjust to impose the suspended sentence. If I did not do so, such orders would become toothless.”