December 11 2013 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
A Norfolk man has been jailed for more than four years after he admitted his part in a scam which meant “vulnerable” people lost more than £1m, a court has heard.
Anthony Slowther, 55, appeared at Norwich Crown Court after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and another count of aiding and abetting fraud by abuse of position.
Slowther, of Chapel Lane, Framingham Pigot, south of Norwich, was sentenced alongside Ian Hosie, 67, of Tenterden, Kent, who was found guilty after a trial earlier this year of conspiracy to defraud.
Also appearing in the dock was Daniel Lett, 26, of St Osyth, Clacton-on-Sea who previously pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation.
Sentencing Slowther to four years nine months; Hosie to six years and Lett to 18 months imprisonment, Judge Stephen Holt said it was a well planned and executed fraud as a result of which “a large number of people have lost a great deal of money”.
The court yesterday heard that the case comprised a “large scale scam” involving “innocent and often vulnerable and elderly members of the public” with the total figure put at more than £1m.
Mark Trafford, prosecuting, said it started with Slowther who set up a company which was used to accept monies from a South African businessman which was intended to provide finance for small businesses to trade abroad.
However the court heard the company started to lose a lot of money and the South African businessman came over to the UK after he was alerted his money appeared to be being used.
Slowther who accepted he had taken a large amount of his money and signed an “acknowledgement of debt to the tune of £2.2m but the businessman was persuaded by Slowther that he could pay him back as he had a good scheme.
The scheme was a so called “boiler room” scam where people were called from an office and persuaded to invest in so called land banks, many of which were in Spain, with “glossy” brochures produced by Hosie.
Mr Trafford, prosecuting, said: “This was a substantial, significant, well planned and executed fraud involving a number of people whereby a lot of people lost a lot of money.”
The court heard Lett called one victim, a church going woman, and persuaded her that he was a born again Christian.
He got her to trust him and she eventually handed him £31,000.
Michael Clare, representing Slowther, said: “His guilty plea us his main point of mitigation.”
Iain Morley QC, for Hosie, said his client was an “ideas man and not the financial man”.
Mr Morley said he was not involved in the receiving of money or sales to potential investors, but assisted with producing the materials so the projects looked attractive.
Robin Patton, for Lett, said his client, who had pleaded guilty, from an early age has had “too much interest in drink” and does not have the skills of a wordsmith or the artistic ability to produce brochures.
He said he was “never going to be regarded as the brains” as a scheme such as this.