A fraudster who helped con a foreign farmer out of £18,000 before leaving him stranded in the UK has been spared prison.

Juraj Szajko, from Green Hailey, near Princes Risborough, and partner-in-crime David Lukac were sentenced at Carlisle Crown Court for a "sophisticated" cross-border crime committed in July 2016.

Prosecutor Neil Ronan said Slovakian farmer Martin Hrvinik had communicated online with Szajko, who promised to source him "the right tractor for the right price in England".

Mr Hrvinik received photos of a vehicle he was told cost £16,500 despite its real value being £30,000. The farmer flew to England on a one-way ticket, meeting Szajko, 36, and Lukac, who drove him to the rural Ravenstonedale area of South Cumbria.

They went to the entirely innocent Tunstall Tractors, which was oblivious to the scam that then unfolded.

After a complex translation exchange, Mr Hrvinik believed a sale was agreed and was driven to a bank. As Szajko loitered, Lukac accompanied the farmer to the counter.

Mr Ronan said: "All the while Mr Hrvinik is clueless as he speaks no English and trusts that Mr Lukac is doing the right thing.

“He assumes the £17,800 that he gives the cashier is going to the tractor seller's account, and it does not."

Fortunately his money was held by the bank, and would be returned.

The two tricksters drove Mr Hrvinik back to Ravenstonedale where he even handed Szajko £200 commission for translating. But the duo then fled, leaving the farmer stranded.

"Mr Tunstall assisted Mr Hrvinik. The police became involved and with the help of the Slovakian embassy he got home," said Mr Ronan.

But there had been a significant effect on the victim's business, personal life and wellbeing. He was left “ashamed and embarrassed”, the prosecutor said.

Szajko admitted fraud, claiming to have played a limited role. He was "remorseful" for the crime's impact on the victim, and "anxious" about the prospect of prison. "He never wishes to be before the courts again," said his lawyer, Colette Renton.

After hearing mitigation, Recorder Julie Clemitson suspended a two-year prison term for 24 months.

Szajko must also complete 260 hours' unpaid work.

Lukac, 25, of Broad Street, Parkgate, Rotherham, was absent as a 30-month jail sentence was passed. He had been convicted of fraud by a jury and is said to be at large.