A BUSINESSMAN who used a dead man's prized Lord's Cricket Ground membership card in a "despicable" bid to gain access to the best seats at the venue has been spared jail but fined £10,000.

James Lattimer bought the card on eBay, giving him a "passport to a prestigious world" in which he had access to an exclusive members-only area of the world-famous ground.

Despite not actually being a member, the father-of-one was even sporting a Marylebone Cricket Club tie when he was stopped at the London venue last August.

The 51-year-old, of Green Road in Bournemouth, had put his photograph onto a card which belonged to a member who died in 2014.

He had bought a general ticket to enter the ground but carried the membership card to get into the exclusive pavilion.

Lattimer, who was stopped by security on suspicion of a separate offence of which he was later acquitted, pleaded guilty to fraud in November.

Southwark Crown Court heard Lords membership is "very sought-after".

It costs £1,000 to become a member, with a £600 annual fee thereafter, and there is a 29-year waiting list with 12,000 people on it, the court heard.

Sentencing Lattimer on Wednesday Judge Michael Grieve QC said: "The use of a deceased person's identity for any purpose is despicable and likely to cause great distress to (their) relatives."

He added: "The forged document was your passport to a prestigious world and the best seats in the ground.

"What you gained was very sought after.

"You acquired the privilege people wait half a lifetime to acquire."

Jonas Milner, representing Lattimer, argued his client's fraud had been "an unattractive and naive ploy by a cricket fan who let his desperation to experience the pavilion get the better of him".

He said Lattimer was not aware the card belonged to someone who had died and was remorseful for what he had done.

Lattimer stood in the dock and did not react as he was handed a 10-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He was told he must pay a £10,000 fine as well as prosecution costs of £425, and carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Suspending the sentence the judge acknowledged Lattimer, who runs a corporate cleaning company, had been "very publicly disgraced" over the offence, but added: "You have brought all of this on yourself."