Weston travel agent jailed for taking customers’ cash rather than booking their holidays

Simon Dinham. Picture: City of London Police

Simon Dinham. Picture: City of London Police - Credit: City of London Police

A Weston travel agent who pocketed thousands of pounds instead of booking customers’ holidays has been jailed.

Simon Dinham was the boss of Thomas William Travel, which had an office in the Boulevard, when he committed a series of frauds, earning him £64,903.

He made a bogus insurance claim for a holiday he did not book and even fleeced one of his own employees out of thousands.

Between 2014 and 2016, Dinham diverted £38,003 of customers’ cash into his bank account, without booking their holidays.

Weston College lost £10,460 when it discovered a students’ trip to Poland had not actually been booked by Dinham, only a week before they were due to fly.

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Its employee Helen George, in a statement read in court, said: “It caused a huge amount of pressure and emotional stress on staff as they tried to resolve the situation for students.”

One of Dinham’s victims was his own employee who booked a holiday through the company.

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She only discovered her £5,000 had not been used to book a holiday when customers started arriving in the office to say there were problems with their bookings.

Dinham, aged 31 and of Colombo Crescent, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud, which included claiming £16,440 in travel insurance for a holiday he said he could no longer go on due to family illness.

The holiday had in fact been cancelled by Virgin Holidays as he had not paid the full amount to go on it in the first place.

Bristol Crown Court heard on Friday how Dinham operated independently, but was part of the Travel Network Group which offers customers financial protection.

The college and other customers got their money back through the Travel Network Group, which lost £38,003 in total.

The court heard how Dinham did not live a lavish lifestyle, but was instead using the money on his business in a bid to keep it afloat.

Defending, Nadeem Aullybocus said it was an ‘unsophisticated crime’, in which Dinham was always going to get caught. He described Dinham as a ‘broken man’.

Judge Julian Lambert jailed him for eight months. Another hearing in November will decide how much money Dinham will have to pay back to victims.

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