Lib Dem election candidate Vincent McKee jailed for fraud
A Liberal Democrat candidate who stood in the 2010 general election in Coventry has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for fraud.
Vincent McKee, who ran a city centre-based student tuition firm, was found guilty of 25 charges of fraud.
Coventry Crown Court heard the 54-year-old stole about £23,000 from students and their families between October 2009 and January 2011.
The jury could not reach a decision on 10 other charges which remain on file.
During the six-week trial, the court was told McKee had obtained the money using his clients' bank card details.
Prosecutor Ben Mills told the jury McKee, who had refunded about a third of the money, had "only stopped taking money from their accounts when he was caught out by them".
'Trust was breached'
The court heard he had been "aggressive, abusive and bullying" towards his clients when they questioned why money had been taken without their authorisation.
Sentencing him at the end of the six-week trial, Judge Peter Carr said: "You were in charge of a business which offered tuition to people who needed it to pass important examinations such as A-levels and university degree courses.
"They were already at a stressful time in their lives.
"There were many people who couldn't afford to be without the money you took.
"There can be no other sentence but imprisonment for this persistent fraud.
"They all placed their trust in you, you breached that trust."
'Shambolic and dishonest'
During the trial McKee admitted a charge of engaging in commercial practise without professional diligence and was given a six-month concurrent sentence for that as well as being banned from being a director of a company for seven years.
Judge Carr said McKee had run his business in a way that was "shambolic and dishonest" and said the nine other fraud charges and one of perverting the course of justice which the jury could not reach a decision on would remain on file.
The defendant was the Lib Dem candidate for Coventry North West two years ago, and finished third behind Geoffrey Robinson, who won the seat for Labour, and Conservative candidate Gary Ridley.
The Lib Dems said he had been suspended since the allegations came to light and they would now expel him from the party.