Accused trader tells trial of debts

The Northern Echo: ON TRIAL: Stuart Bell at Teesside Crown Court ON TRIAL: Stuart Bell at Teesside Crown Court

A MARKET trader alleged to have committed a £133,000 credit card scam said he and his partner had “massive overdrafts”.

Stuart Bell also denied being responsible for cash machine withdrawals totalling more than £37,000 over a six week period which the prosecution in his trial at Teesside Crown Court say were from the credit card accounts that were plundered.

The 42-year-old, of Brudenell Way, Darlington, is accused of dishonestly making a number of refund transactions which were credited to the accounts.

They occurred as a result of various cards being 'swiped' on a chip and pin machine belonging to Mr Bell's mobile phone repair business.

The defendant told police another man who took over the running of his stall in Darlington's covered market, in West Row, had possession of the credit cards and he was not responsible for the fraudulent transactions.

In increasingly testy exchanges in court, Mr Bell was quizzed by prosecutor David Crook over his spending between December 2008 and January 2009, which included £7,000 on a new bathroom suite and more than a thousand pounds on ferry tickets.

The defendant appeared exasperated with the questioning he faced from the barrister and at one stage told Mr Crook that would it be “easier for him if he kept to plain English”.

He said he was not responsible for all the cash machine withdrawals, including a number at a hospital where his son was receiving treatment.

Fellow market trader Steven Rose, who appeared at a defence witness, said another man he only knew as 'Raj' had been in the process of taking over Mr Bell's stall.

Mr Rose said he had conversations with Raj and also spoke to Mr Bell. He did not, however, recall Mr Bell mentioning any concerns he had about money being ripped off.

The prosecution say Raj did not exist and that Mr Bell was responsible for all of the transactions in question.

Mr Bell denies 11 counts of fraud by false representation. The case continues.

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