An unlucky Liverpool businesswomen has been told by a judge that she is still liable for £9,000 worth of calls to gay chatlines made on her mobile phone.
The Liverpool Echo reports the unusual case of Mrs Anne Jeffrey, who runs a successful ironing business.
The business had several mobile phones on contract from Genesis Communications, one of which Mrs Jeffrey lent to her son.
Her daughter-in-law mislaid the phone’s SIM card, and it fell into the hands of Carl Robert Thomas, of Broadway, Greasby.
Over the next 19 days, the unemployed 21-year-old made hundreds of calls using the stolen SIM card, many of them to gay chatlines.
Thomas pleaded guilty to charges of theft of a SIM card and obtaining electronic communication services with intent to avoid payment for services.
However, as reported by the Liverpool Echo, District Judge Nick Sanders, sitting at Birkenhead Magistrates Court, could only fine the unemployed thief a maximum of £500.
“Your own gratification has caused others to suffer considerably and one can only feel sadness for the victim who faces horrifying debt,” the judge said.
“I would like to order compensation in full but the law requires me to take into account your means.”
Mrs Jeffery, from Moreton, was hit with a 300-page bill by Genesis Communications in June 2006.
Police managed to trace Thomas via a call he made to a family member.
54-year-old Mrs Jeffery told the Liverpool Echo, “I’m worried for my business and I’m worried for my home.
“I’ve prided myself on an excellent credit rating and nowI’mbeing harassed for a bill that is not mine, one that I have no hope of paying.”
Thomas, who claimed he was trying to come to terms with his sexuality, was fined £500 and sentenced to 12 weeks in jail, suspended for 18 months.