Hearts legend's son jailed for £330k scam

THE son of football legend Sandy Jardine was today beginning a jail term after conning a housing association out of £331,000.

Building firm boss Steven Jardine, 35, of Upper Gilmore Place, Tollcross, was told by a judge that he had stolen money from tenants who could not afford homes of their own and the public purse. His friend Sean McGovern, 35, was also jailed at Preston Crown Court yesterday for his part in the theft.

The court heard that Jardine wined and dined McGovern, spending 90,000 on "entertaining" the boss of Calico Housing in Burnley, Lancashire, who repaid him by scamming money from his own employers.

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McGovern was "dazzled" by the high life with Jardine, who took him on golf and shooting trips, visits to Gleneagles and introducing him to celebrities and footballers

In return McGovern, 35, transferred the cash, around 47,000 a month, to Jardine's Newington-based firm, Skyline Building and Roofing Services, for work they were meant to have done on Calico's housing stock. But the work was never done. Instead the money was used to prop up Jardine's ailing firm.

Richard Marks QC, defending Jardine, said his fall from grace had already attracted publicity because of the "defendant's parentage" and referred to articles in the Evening News.

He added: "The origin of his dishonesty is entirely to be found in the financial difficulties he was experiencing."

His father helped him build up the firm, which at one point reported annual profits of more than 1 million.

But it was revealed that the company went bust in 2005 after it was unable to pay its debts.

Sandy Jardine, who was joint manager for two years at Tynecastle during the 1980s, currently works in the public relations department at Ibrox.

Father-of-four Jardine drove a Range Rover, but was over his 250,000 overdraft limit and under pressure from his bank.

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The scam only came to light after tenants complained repairs were not being carried out.

Both men eventually pleaded guilty to seven counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception between September 2004 and March 2005. Howard Bentham QC, prosecuting, told the court the pair were friends and McGovern formerly worked at Edinburgh City Council.

He moved south to work for a firm called Pinnacle, which was advising Burnley Council over its transfer of council houses to a new housing association, Calico.

McGovern was promoted to head of housing works, where he appointed Skyline as the association's favourite contractor.

He went on to sign invoices worth 331,801 for work never done by his friend's firm.

The court heard all the money had been paid back to Calico, including the interest, amounting to 410,000 - McGovern gave 100,000 and Jardine 310,000, after both men sold their houses.

Judge Andrew Gilbart QC jailed McGovern, whose wife is pregnant with their first child, for two years nine months and Jardine for two years and seven months.

Jardine was also banned from holding any form of company directorship for six years.

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