HEALTH and family problems have saved two crooked businessmen from an immediate trip to jail for their £159,000 fraud.

Adrian Paul Davidson and Marc Feldman used an industrial estate near Eggborough as a base for months as they persuaded companies to hand over stock in the pretence they would pay for it, York Crown Court heard.

They used a false name and hid behind the façade of an apparently respectable company called Mackintosh Stores Ltd, of the Maltings Industrial Estate, Whitley Bridge, said prosecutor Michael Smith.

The police were unable to uncover any evidence indicating the company did any work other than taking delivery of surplus stock from other companies that it never paid for between May 2006 and early 2007 and attracted business through ads in a trade magazine that were not paid for either. The prosecution accepted other people were also involved in the fraud at a higher level.

Davidson, 58, of Crow Trees Park, Rawdon, Leeds, and Feldman, 48, of Stoneleigh Court, Leeds, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud. Feldman also admitted an unrelated charge of being concerned in the smuggling of 1.5 million cigarettes through Ipswich and evading £250,000 in customs’ charges.

Both men were given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years. Davidson was ordered to do 12 months’ supervision and Feldman was ordered to do 300 hours’ unpaid work. Davidson’s barrister, Simon Bickler, said since the fraud, Davidson had had heart by-pass surgery and also had diabetes, depression, neck pain, a spine problem awaiting surgery and mobility problems. He would find prison life very difficult.

Feldman’s barrister, Andrew Stranex, said Feldman was the sole carer for triplets and also had another child, who would suffer if he went to jail. Some of the children had major problems of their own.

Judge Stephen Ashurst, the Recorder of York, said he had very nearly sent both men directly to jail, but one was in poor health and Feldman’s innocent family would suffer if he did.

• Mackintosh Stores advertised itself as “'Europe’s Largest Volume Buyer of Unwanted Stock”. None of the items delivered and not paid for were recovered.