Leamington security firm boss who cheated guards he hired has been ordered to pay back more than £90,000

He has been told he will have to spend another 12 months in jail if he does not find the cash

A Leamington security firm boss who systematically cheated guards he hired for projects including construction work at a Coventry hotel, has been ordered to stump up more than £90,000.

And John Gaines has been told he will have to spend another 12 months in jail if he does not find the cash to repay the men he cheated within the next three months.

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Gaines, who had used false names to make his business seem bigger than it was, cheated workers out of around £58,000 on contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

John Gaines

Also known as Jeff Caines, who once boasted of living in the former home of a Leeds United star, he had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to 22 charges of fraud.

But after a three-week trial, prosecuted by the Security Industry Authority, in 2019 during which he defended himself after sacking his barrister, he was found guilty of all 22 offences.

Gaines, now 74, of Masters Road, Leamington, was jailed for four years and eight months at the time and disqualified from acting as a company director for eight years.

A confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned for an extensive investigation into his finances.

John Gaines

And after a series of adjournments, caused because Gaines disputed the figures, Recorder William Davis concluded that his benefit from his frauds amounted to a total of £445,336.

He ruled that Gaines had assets worth £91,934 which he ordered to be confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act – with £58,140 of it being used to pay compensation to those he cheated.

Recorder Davis gave him three months to come up with the money or face a further 12 months in jail – after which he would still have to pay up.

During the trial, prosecutor James Fletcher said Gaines’s frauds involved contracts he obtained to provide security guards for four construction sites between May 2012 and January 2016.

They included a Tesco distribution centre, construction work at Heathrow Terminal 2 in 2013, and the Old Hall hotel in Keresley Heath, Coventry, between December 2015 and January 2016.

Gaines also falsely claimed on business cards that his company Crown Accord Nationwide was SIA approved, when it was not.

For each project, he advertised on the internet for SIA-licensed guards – and when people applied, he insisted on them starting immediately, without serving notice on any previous job.

In doing so, he took on people who were vulnerable because they were desperate for work, but repeatedly failed to pay them, or made only limited payments, coming up with a variety of excuses for withholding the money they were due.

The charges related to two guards who had worked for him at a Tesco distribution centre being built in Reading, 14 men covering the Heathrow Terminal 2 construction, two providing security during renovation work on a large house in Cheshire, and three guards at the Old Hall hotel.

When unpaid guards tried to get their money, Gaines used bullying tactics, in which he indulged in gratuitous racist abuse towards many of them, to browbeat them.

Mr Fletcher said Gaines had defrauded 21 employees out of wages totalling £58,140 on contracts which had brought him in around £500,000.

The consequences to his many vulnerable victims had been dramatic, with one man losing his home because he could not pay the rent, and another having to sleep rough near Heathrow because he had no money to travel to and from his home.

Before Gaines was sentenced, his barrister Anne-Marie Critchley had said: “Mr Gaines has been pinning his hopes on a sentence such that he could serve it in the community.

“But, looking at the guidelines, that would represent some considerable optimism on his part,” she conceded, adding: “He now expresses some remorse.”

Jailing Gaines, Judge Anthony Potter had told him: “The frauds were perpetrated over an almost four-year period, and they stretched from Cheshire in the north to Heathrow in the south.

“This was an exploitation of vulnerable individuals for profit. None of your staff were provided with anything approaching a proper contract or uniform or equipment.

“All of this is against the background of bank accounts you held over this period of time being credited with something just over £500,000. So you were not a man who, at this time, was short of money.

“If staff raised concerns about payment they were threatened with the sack and, in the case of those from ethnic minorities, met with racial abuse.

“I consider that what you express is not genuine remorse, but regret for the effect the offending has had on your life, and that as a result you are going to go to custody.”