A WORDSLEY fraudster who pocketed more than £7,000 by promising customers garden sheds he knew he could not build or deliver has been spared jail.

Steven Corbett advertised his firm PineSheds on eBay and took money from ten customers despite knowing orders would never be fulfilled at his Cradley Heath factory unit - Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

The 38-year-old fully intended keeping his customers happy but was "blind to reality" - said Ben Williams, defending.

He told the court Corbett "dug himself into a hole" and added: "He over-reached himself and he tried to be a businessman which was something he had no head for.

"The situation spiralled out of control and he was in denial about which way he was heading."

He stressed there had been no lavish living by Corbett and he added: "He now realises the way he behaved was extremely stupid."

It was now the intention of Corbett to pay back every penny he had taken from his angry customers - many of whom had successfully taken out County Court Judgements against him and the firm.

Recorder Geoffrey Kelly said Corbett had carried out the fraud for some significant time and had continually fobbed off disappointed customers with a string of excuses.

But he ruled he was just able to avoid passing a prison sentence because of Corbett's previous good character.

Corbett, of Tack Farm Road, admitted ten charges of fraud by false representation and was given an eight-month jail term suspended for 18 months.

He was also told he must carry out 150 hours unpaid work in the community, pay back £7,375 compensation to the people he defrauded together with £1,000 costs.

Robert Cowley, prosecuting, said one man suffering from arthritis had paid Corbett £540 in cash for a shed he could use as a garden studio because he was a keen painter.

Another victim had paid £2,090 for a custom built shed to carry out his motorcycle renovation business and the fraud had cost the man a great deal of money in lost orders.

Mr Cowley said Corbett had started building sheds at his home but complaints from neighbours led him to move to the unit at The Factory Centre in Woods Lane.

But it then quickly became apparent he was taking orders and money knowing he would not be able to complete the work.

Dudley's Trading Standards officers were called in after a string of complaints about PineSheds after Corbett had given customers excuse after excuse for failing to fulfil their orders.