A LETTING agent who conned homeowners out of thousands of pounds has been spared jail.

Saleem Kassim invented apparently necessary maintenance work at the rental properties he managed and pocketed the £16,500 he was given to carry out these repairs.

Liverpool Crown Court heard this morning, Tuesday, that the 35-year-old was a specialist residential managing agent at Leaders Estate Agents on Sankey Street in the town centre.

The married dad-of-three managed a flat above Gittins Sports Therapy and Wellness Clinic on Marsh House Lane in Padgate, as well as another two properties in Liverpool.

Warrington Guardian:

Kassim managed a flat above Gittins Sports Therapy and Wellness Clinic on Marsh House Lane - picture by Google Maps

On seven occasions between 2016 and 2018, he told these clients that work needed to be done on their central heating.

But this work did not need to be carried out and was not carried out.

Instead Kassim, from Liverpool, paid the invoices for these repairs into his own bank account.

His replacement uncovered the swindle after the conman had left Leaders in shame in May last year.

Defence barrister Philip Tully told the court: "It is no excuse for his behaviour, but the simple reason my client found himself committing this offence was that he found himself in debt – he acted in a foolish and out of character way.

Warrington Guardian:

Liverpool Crown Court

"Mr Kassim clearly is ashamed about his conduct and left his employment because he knew he couldn't cope with that fact it would be discovered.

"He is genuinely remorseful for his actions – he's so ashamed that he hasn't been able to share these matters with his family.

"He's a family man who accepts what he's done wrong.

"I ask your honour to give him a chance."

Kassim, who is now working as a taxi driver, admitted fraud during an earlier hearing at Warrington Magistrates Court.

And judge Stuart Driver handed him a 12-month imprisonment, suspended for a year.

The fraudster, who has no previous convictions, was also subjected to a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 15 days and told to carry out 70 hours of unpaid work.

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Sentencing, judge Driver said: "You've said if you don't go to prison today that you intend to repay the money, but I don't believe you.

"You defrauded customers of yours out of £16,500 over one and a half years when you were in a position of trust.

"But you are a hard-working family man with three young children, and this is a case in which there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.

"This is your one and only chance – if I see you again you're going to prison."

Kassim will face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing back at Liverpool Crown Court later this year, when he could be ordered to pay back his ill-gotten gains.