Owners and manager of Kingswood-based firm DPDS sentenced for fraudulent trading
By matt_2009 | Wednesday, January 09, 2013, 11:03
The owner of Kingswood-based DPDS leaflet distribution Denise Preslend, her son Darren Presland and employee Laurence Brown were sentenced on Monday (January 7) after appearing before Bristol Crown Court on fraudulent trading offences.
Owners and manager of Kingswood-based firm DPDS sentenced for fraudulent trading.
Denise Presland received a 12 month sentence suspended for 18 months and was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work. She was also disqualified from acting as a company director for five years. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, she was also ordered to pay a £250,000 Confiscation Order within six months and to pay legal costs of £45,000.
Her son Darren Presland and Laurence Brown both received a six month jail term which was suspended for 18 months. They were both ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. Darren Presland was also ordered to pay a £800 Confiscation Order.
Cllr Claire Young, Chair of the Communities Committee, said: "Fraudulent activity is not a legitimate way to make a living and the sort of illegal practices carried out by DPDS leaflet distribution company is not tolerated in South Gloucestershire. We will continue to prosecute offenders to help stamp out this type of criminal activity."
The case was brought by trading standards officers at South Gloucestershire Council. The charges date back as far as January 2005 and relate to DPDS Leaflet Distribution Ltd in Douglas Road, Kingswood intentionally failing to deliver some or all of the various promotional materials that hundreds of their customers had paid to be distributed.
The charges also relate to another leaflet distribution business they ran from the same address called Lo-Cost Leaflet Distribution Ltd, which Darren Presland was the director of. Both businesses traded nationwide and had a large customer base.
Trading standards first alerted to the company's activities after a large amount of complaints were received - from Scotland down to Devon - from a variety of customers including estate agents, takeaways and restaurants, local interest groups and even a church. All complained that they had paid to have from as little as a few hundred to over 100,000 leaflets distributed, but had seen no evidence that this had taken place.
In May 2011 officers from trading standards and the police raided the business premises at the Douglas Road Industrial Park and Mrs Presland's home address in Warmley. All three defendants were arrested and an investigation began.
Neil Derrick, senior enforcement officer at South Gloucestershire Council, said: "During this large scale investigation, we identified more than 200 victims who had paid in excess of £200,000 to DPDS and Lo-Cost, excluding their printing costs. It is possible that many more of their customers may have fallen victim to these practices, but they may not even know it, putting their lack of response down to poor marketing or the economy.
"What's more, their selfish actions may have affected the chances of new and established businesses trying to survive in the current economic climate as they may have lost out on potential business to these fraudulent traders."