Dec 21 2012 By Caitlin Black
A SHAMED councillor given a suspended jail term for "taking advantage of a vulnerable man" should resign, a political opponent has said.
Harrow on the Hill ward councillor David Gawn admitted attempting to cash two cheques totalling £10,000 from multiple sclerosis sufferer Dennis O'Brien to pay bills accrued by his company Community Arts and Media, which provided transport for disabled people to attend cultural events.
Gawn, 35, of Lankers Drive, South Harrow, admitted one count each of fraud and attempted theft and was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on Thursday to concurrent 10-week jail sentences, suspended for one year, and was handed a six week doorstep curfew from 8pm to 7am.
The court heard that between July 25 and August 1 2011 Gawn wrote the cheques - one for £7,000 made payable to Stephen Coventry and the other for £3,000 made payable to Kevin Chapman - from victim Mr O’Brien's cheque book but both bounced as Mr O'Brien cancelled them in time.
Gawn did not intend to use the money for his personal use but to pay off debts for his company, the court was told.
Sentencing the councillor, Judge John Dodd, said: "You offered to help Mr O'Brien with his mode of transport. He suffers from MS (multiple sclerosis) and is disabled therefore he was not able to write his own cheques. He trusted you to do it and you took advantage of that trust.
"Two cheques for £7,000 and £3,000 were written out by you. Luckily Mr O'Brien stopped the cheques before any money was taken.
"You are a man of good character, you, yourself are disabled, and it is clear that you have had to struggle throughout life and have had some challenges.
"I can see that you give your time to others and the company you set up. It must be a painful personal tragedy for you to be in court today.
"However you did take advantage of a vulnerable man. I accept that your remorse is genuine and you show a significant amount of shame."
Speaking afterwards, Kevin Chapman, of MTS Minibus Tail Lift Services, which carried out repairs on two Community Arts and Media minibuses, said: "I am disappointed that he has got such a light sentence, he owes me and my company so much money from work we did for his transport business.
"When I received the cheque from Mr O'Brien, I thought there was something odd about it. He should have got a tougher sentence if I am honest with you.
"I still haven't seen the money he owes me, and as a result I have had to make a member of staff redundant because I cannot afford to pay her wages."
Mr Chapman won a Uxbridge County Court judgment against Gawn personally for £11,006.02 in January for unpaid work.
Councillor Susan Hall, leader of the Conservative opposition at Harrow Council, said after sentencing: "Gawn should resign from the council. We councillors are community leaders. Residents elect us to represent them and their interests.
"Councillor Gawn has cynically betrayed the public’s trust through his criminal actions. He now has a moral obligation to resign."
Gawn is not obliged to step down but he had been suspended by the Labour Party pending the court case.
We are trying to contact Gawn for a comment.