NEWS
Coombs must repay money, says judge

Lighting designer Jeremy Coombs, who pleaded guilty to fraud last month, must repay the money he took and do community service, a court ordered today.

Jeremy Coombs

Coombs: Must repay £3,500

Coombs must now pay back the £3,500 he was paid by Antiques Roadshow expert Rupert Maas.

Jeremy Coombs, 52, pocketed the money from the art specialist and TV personality after promising to deliver and install an LED lighting installation at his Mayfair gallery.

Southwark Crown Court heard today that he had agreed to provide 40 picture lights to Maas for use at the Maas Gallery in January 2010.

Coombs took the £3,500 advance fee – but did not provide the lighting system.

Mr Recorder James Mulholland QC today ordered that Coombs pay back all the money he took and complete 70 hours’ community service, but spared him a prison sentence.

He said: ‘In January 2010 you chose to take money from the Maas Gallery, in particular Rupert Maas, on the basis of the understanding that you would provide 40 picture lights that you had designed. You knew at the time that it was highly unlikely that order was to be met at all, but you took the money and kept the money.

‘Having said that, I accept that this is your first offence and that you have lost your good character at the age of 52, which is a significant feature. I take that very much into account and give you credit for that and for the plea of guilty, albeit it came somewhat late in the day.’

Surrey-based lighting designer Coombs had originally been charged with two further counts of fraud, but prosecutors today asked for the charges to lie on file. It had been alleged that Coombs conned a London art gallery out of £12,600 in 2009, after promising to supply lighting systems.

He was also alleged to have used the same ruse to trick art dealers Stoppenbach & Delestre in to parting with £3,400.

Nicholas Beechey, defending, said Coombs is currently surviving on benefits and caring for his wife.

He said that the picture lights Coombs had designed were his ‘baby’ and the design was ‘something he fully hoped to bring to market’. Coombs felt his reputation had been ‘ruined’ by the case, Beechey said.

Coombs, of Weybridge, Surrey, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud.

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