A Brighton teenager wept as he was jailed for defrauding hundreds of people out of at least £35,000 in a ticket scam.
Ben Hyland-Ward, 19, was sent to a young offender institution for 21 months for a fraud that dashed young music fans’ hopes of going to the Bestival pop music festival.
The teenager was attacked by three men at one point. He later tried to take his own life three times and needed hospital treatment as a result of the harm caused by an overdose.
At Hove Crown Court, Judge Jeremy Gold told Hyland-Ward: “You have pleaded guilty to a very serious offence of fraud.
“You accepted money from friends and others for festival tickets when you had no reasonable prospect of meeting your obligations.
“I accept you started legitimately (but) you were simply taking money hand over fist with no reasonable prospect of giving those people what you offered.”
The judge said that the offence was aggravated by the way he used the Bestival logo to create a fake confirmation email.
But he took into account references about Hyland-Ward’s good character as well as his depression and mental health difficulties.
Judge Gold made reference to Hyland-Ward crying as he stood in the dock in a smart three-piece suit and added: “I accept that you are genuinely remorseful.”
Hyland-Ward, a former Varndean schoolboy, of Westfield Avenue South, Saltdean, must serve at least half of his sentence.
The court was told that Hyland-Ward won trust when he managed to obtain discounted tickets for Bestival in 2015.
Shortly after offering tickets for Bestival 2015 for sale he started blowing thousands of pounds on days out at the races, foreign holidays and online gambling.
He put pressure on some of his friends to act as sales agents for him, with some of them borrowing hundreds of pounds to give to Hyland-Ward.
And he lied to those who pressed him for tickets or information as the festival date approached.
Rowan Jenkins, prosecuting, said that the victims’ losses could be as much as £50,000 while Hyland-Ward had lived it up in places such as Ascot, Berlin and Barcelona.
His barrister Ravi Dogra said in mitigation: “It is his intention to pay back the money that he owes. I’m not sure how realistic that is.”
Judge Gold said: “The trouble is the length of time he spent covering his tracks.
“He stands before me a young man of 19. I can see he is distraught. It’s too little, too late.”