A HOTEL conman cheated six York guest houses out of nearly £900 by not paying his bills, the city’s magistrates heard.

For more than a month, Matthew James Rawcliffe, 28, booked himself into hotels knowing he did not have the money to pay, said Kathy Turnbull, prosecuting.

He put off requests to pay during his stay with tales that his boss would pay or that he had left his bank card in a shop, before leaving.

During a three-night stay at Barbican House, Barbican Road, when he had already brushed off requests to pay, he returned at midnight in a condition where he was struggling to stand up, and woke the owners and other guests by banging on the front door.

His solicitor Lee-Anne Robins-Hicks said he had nowhere to stay and didn’t want to sleep rough on the streets.

Rawcliffe, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to three charges of making off without payment, committed between February 5 and March 10, and asked for three more offences to be taken into consideration.

He was given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months on condition he does 120 hours’ unpaid work. He must also pay all his unpaid hotel bills, totalling £883.60. He told the court he earned £40 a day as a labourer.

Ms Turnbull said Rawcliffe should have paid £180 at the Barbican House, £150 at the Farthings, Nunthorpe Avenue, South Bank, £229.50 to The Limes, Fulford Road, £163 to The Groves, St Peter’s Grove, £80 at the Cumbria House, Vyner Street, off Haxby Road, and £81 at a sixth guest house.

Mrs Robins-Hicks said Rawcliffe had been sleeping at his friends’ but felt he was outstaying his welcome, so booked into the hotels to give them a break. He had been homeless since leaving prison and losing his then job.