A Northampton builder who fleeced plant hire companies has been jailed for seven years.
Cheques written by Peter Giblin, 39, for rental fees bounced and none of the machinery, said to be worth tens of thousands of pounds, has ever recovered.
At Ipswich Crown Court, a jury found Giblin, of Colonial Drive, Northampton, guilty of three offences of fraud by false representation and six offences of theft.
Three further alleged offences of fraud by false representation on which the jury failed to reach verdicts are to remain on file.
During the trial, the court heard how Giblin had rented a JCB excavator, two hot boxes for tarmac, two dumper trucks, two Volvo mini excavators a roller and trailer and another digger from plant hire companies in the Midlands, Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Suffolk.
Prosecutor Robert Sadd said: “When he hired equipment he did it deliberately from the outset with the intention of not honouring the contract.”
It was alleged that while Giblin had signed rental agreements for all the machinery, he only ever paid a very small proportion of what he owed before the items all “vanished”, said Mr Sadd.
Police in four counties became involved in an investigation into Giblin’s activities, culminating in his arrest in Birmingham earlier this year.
The offences were said to have been committed between September last year and May this year.
Detective Constable James Cassidy of Suffolk Police told the jury that checks on Giblin’s bank accounts revealed that when a cheque he wrote for £14,000 to Travis Perkins in Birmingham bounced, Giblin had just 36p available at the bank.
Giving evidence, Giblin denied that he had rented any of the equipment with the intention of acting fraudulently. He disputed prosecution claims that none of the machinery had been recovered and said he knew where some of it was.
Jailing Giblin for a total of seven years, Mr Recorder Stephen Solley QC said the offending was so serious that immediate custody was the only realistic option open to the court.