A SERIAL fraudster who nearly brought a family-run Bolton firm to its knees has been jailed for five years.

Kirk Whitehead, 41, claimed to have held a string of high-flying corporate positions before being made managing director of electrical supplies outfit Homespares.

But his CV contained a catalogue of exaggerations and falsehoods, which were only uncovered following an investigation by the Waters Meeting Road firm.

He claimed to have been the boss of an international concern with sites in the UK, Sweden and Poland, where sales had soared by 300 per cent, and he was group sales and marketing director for a lifts company with a turnover of £34m.

Whitehead had, by then, racked up bogus expenses claims of around £50,000 - including non-business related trips to Hong Kong, Milan and Berlin at their expense.

Jailing Whitehead at Stafford Crown Court, Judge Graeme Smith said the defendant had “added insult to injury” by cheating Homespares out of the £190 cost of setting up a rival firm to challenge them.

Christopher Jeyes, prosecuting, said during the defendant’s employment in the £110,000 a year role, from August 2015 and November 2017, it was later discovered he had only been in the office around twice a week.

Whitehead, of Kirkgate, in Elmet, Leeds, pleaded guilty to fraud and attempted fraud cases in relation to three more companies.

Mr Jakes said once Whitehead had left Homespares he used his dealings with another firm, Qualtech, to secure a £150,000 a year post there.

The court heard he only remained there for a short period but had encountered problems when, while the firm was trying to sell off a company car, he used a false e-mail trail to undercut an official offer by £3,000.

Later he tried to use his inflated CV to secure a job with a construction supplies firm and a job with a former Homespares colleague but was thwarted.

Mr Jakes said the defendant later went into partnership with an overseas businessman to establish a UK subsidiary for a firm called Nordic Lifts.

But it was later discovered he had been siphoning off money from service contracts into his own personal bank account, causing losses totalling £14,790. He also claimed false expenses totalling £8,295.

Richard Holland, defending, said the defendant was a father-of-three with no previous convictions who was in poor health, having been hospitalised several times in 2020 in relation to pancreatitis and other conditions.

Passing sentence Judge Smith, who also disqualified Whitehead from being a company director for 12-and-a-half years said he had “not seen a shred of genuine remorse” for his victims.

The judge noted that John Farnworth, one of the directors, had told of how his father Doug, now 82, had been forced to return to work to help deal with the fall-out from Whitehead’s offending. His mother Joan had also been deeply worried about the case.

Judge Smith said it was encouraging Homespares was continuing to trade despite Whitehead’s conduct.