A BUSINESSMAN lost his wife, his job and almost his firm after ‘helping’ a millionaire friend by forging burglar alarm records, a court was told.
Stefan Halenko, 56, the director of Blackburn Alarms, based in Davyfield Road, had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud Zurich Insurance.
His falsification was said to have cost his property tycoon friend Toby Whittaker, who he regarded as ‘family’, a £400,000 insurance payout.
Despite all that, Halenko left court smiling yesterday after being given a community sentence by deputy circuit Judge Charles Mahon.
Preston Crown Court heard that Halenko's firm had fitted the £25,000 high-level security system at Mr Whittaker, the boss of Dylan Harvey, home in Read.
Mr Whittaker was burgled in December 2008 with hundreds of thousands of pounds of jewellery stolen and the alarm had not been set.
Prosecuting, Nigel Booth, said Halenko produced a forged 'alarm event log' purporting to show the alarm had been set.
In a ‘cruel irony’, it was later revealed that Mr Whittaker's insurance policy did not require the alarm to be set.
However, Halenko’s act made Whittaker’s claim void, costing him most of the £400,000 payout for his stolen property, including his £120,00 diamond encrusted Rolex watch and wife’s jewellery.
A month after the burglary, Halenko, of Mayfield Gardens, Oswaldtwistle, confessed to Zurich claims investigator Lol Pedley, leading to a police prosecution against Halenko and Whittaker for a conspiracy to defraud.
Mr Booth said Halenko's guilty plea was on the basis that he was asked for help by Mr Whittaker between December 18 and 20.
“He agreed to go along with the story that the alarm was set because Mr Whittaker was telling everybody it was set,” Mr Booth said.
Last month, Mr Whittaker was acquitted after a trial of the same conspiracy charge as well as fraud.
During the evidence, his defence claimed that Halenko had acted alone to 'ingratiate' himself with his best client and maintain a contract worth £2m to Blackburn Alarms providing security for Mr Whittaker's businesses. It represented 90 per cent of the firm's business.
However, Michael Maher, for Halenko, told the court yesterday that his client was 'bemused' to find himself effectively having conspired with an innocent man.
Mr Maher said that although Halenko insisted Mr Whittaker did not put any pressure on him to falsify the records, he was 'not a man you said no to' and was 'genuinely upset that he was not going to be recompensed'.
The solicitor said Halenko's guilty plea not only voided Mr Whittaker's claim, despite his acquittal, but had lead to the 'massive downturn' of his Blackburn business.
In April, he resigned, resulting in his son having to come back from New Zealand to pick up the firm which was on it's 'last legs'. The case had also lead to the breakdown of his marriage.
His last company tax bill was down from £20,000-£30,000 the previous year, to £500 for the past 12 months.
Mr Maher said it was a 'genuine sadness' that a man in his mid 50s of previous good character had a 'moment of madness' prompted by a desire to help a close friend.
Judge Mahon said Halenko woud have benefitted 'over time' from Mr Whittaker and said he had been in a 'position of trust'.
He gave him 12 months supervision and 80 hours unpaid work.
Halenko declined to comment after the case.