A scaffolder who cheated his former employees after he started up his own firm has been warned he could be jailed.

Paul House left his job as contracts manager at a Royal Wootton Bassett company to set up House & Son with his family.

But after leaving Combined Scaffolding Ltd he invoiced them a total of £7,210 for work which was in reality being done for the family firm.

And he also stole items worth tens of thousands from Trad Hire and Sales Ltd, a supplier of poles and metalwork to the industry.

The 53-year-old had denied theft and fraud but after asking what the maximum sentence could be if he changed his plea, he admitted what he had done.

Judge Robert Pawson, sitting at Swindon Crown Court, told him he would not give him more than two years: the longest sentence which it is possible to suspend.

Mary Cowe, prosecuting, said House had been contracts manager at Combined Scaffolding and told them he was leaving to set up on his own.

They had not wanted him to go and discussed making him a partner, but things turned sour between them and he wanted to leave. He then started to use their scaffolding for his own jobs and also used their staff.

“A number of people who worked for Combined Scaffolding ended up working on House & Sons jobs, including his sons,” she said. “He submitted time sheets to Combined Scaffolding indicating, representing, that they had been working for Combined Scaffolding. Other evidence shows they had been working at sites Combined Scaffolding knew nothing about.

“He said he hoped a some point in the future that he would make good that money to Combined Scaffolding.”

Peter Asteris, defending, said that there had been a hope that the two companies would work together and share resources.

He said it was now two years since his client, who has had a heart attack, was arrested and at one stage many members of his family had also been charged.

House, of Grange Drive, Stratton St Margaret, admitted theft from Trad Hire and Sales Ltd, and fraud, from Combined between March 7, 2016, and March 20, 2017.

And he adjourned to March 20 for a pre-sentence report saying that if he had repaid the £7,210 before he was back in court it would show remorse.

Combined Scaffolding Ltd is based at Lanes Farm on Marlborough Road in Wootton Bassett.