A SALESMAN whose wife was having an affair stole more than £144,000 from his company in a bid to save his marriage.

Bolton Crown Court heard how, in February 2017, 33-year-old Nicholas Booth, who had debts, discovered his wife of four years had been having an long-standing affair with a director of the firm where she was employed.

“That was, of course, a bombshell,” said Martin Pizzey, defending.

“The defendant was very mindful of the fact that his life was not, in any way, capable of competing with this other man. This other man was in a position of wealth and a position where he could provide many things for the defendant’s wife.”

So Booth, who dealt with commercial customers at Renault in Manchester Road, Bolton, began siphoning cash into his own bank account from vehicle buyers.

Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting, told how Booth, of Lentworth Drive, Worsley, had been employed by the car company from October 2016, but in June 2017 he began giving buyers his own bank account details, pretending they were Renault’s.

On June 7 customer Steven Titherington paid him £12,000 in part payment for a Renault Trafic van.

Two further customers unwittingly made payments into his account that month, then in August Mr Titherington made another £8,000 payment and Bury-based company Vehicles 2 Lease, made three payments, totalling almost £90,000.

In an email to them he stated: “The card machine is not working at the moment, so can you BACS transfer for the vehicle?”

The bank details given were the defendant’s.

Booth tried to cover his tracks by paying some, but not all, of the money into the legitimate Renault account, but he was caught when Renault contacted Vehicles 2 Lease about their supposedly outstanding invoice.

Documents produced by the purchaser showed the money had been paid into Booth’s account, the same one the salesman had his wages paid into.

On December 20, 2017 Booth, of Lentworth Drive, Worsley, was sacked and later arrested.

The court heard that Booth, with the help of his father, reimbursed just over £9,000 to Renault but £32,934.25 is still outstanding.

In a statement, Renault regional manager Jim Schofield told Judge Graeme Smith: “The actions of Nick Booth have had a large impact on our business in terms of financial result for 2018 and the resulting loss of faith and customer confidence.”

He added that the financial investigation and disruption caused put a “huge strain” on staff and contributed to an overall £500,000 loss for the year.

“It’s now over a year since Nick Booth worked here and his actions are still felt strongly in the company,” added Mr Schofield.

Booth, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud against Renault.

Mr Pizzey said that Booth, who now has another job, had always been hard-working but is now separating from his wife and moving back to his parents’ home.

He said “It’s not something he is happy about. He hoped, when married, it would be for life.”

Mr Pizzey added: “He accepts he did lose his way and he made some terrible decisions and mistakes.

“What he did was wrong and he is very ashamed and embarrassed to be in this situation.”

Sentencing Booth to 16 months in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordering him to do 200 hours of unpaid work, Judge Smith told him: “This is not the first time I have come across someone who has ended up helping themselves to someone else’s money because of a desire, in effect, to keep their partner in a particular style of living or to impress their partner.

“You took the easy option of dipping into money that belonged to your employer Renault.”

A proceeds of crime hearing was also held during which Booth was ordered to pay back £5,000 within 28 days or face three months in prison.

Speaking after the hearing Mr Schofield said he was “disappointed” that Booth did not receive an immediate jail sentence and added that civil proceedings will be started to recover the remaining money.

He stressed that no customer lost out as a result of Booth’s crimes.