Jail for financial adviser who defrauded disabled pensioner who wrote him into his will
PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 January 2015
A debt-ridden financial adviser has been jailed after defrauding a vulnerable stroke victim who trusted him enough to make him a beneficiary of his will.
Christopher Peacher befriended Fred Turner after he contacted Sovereign Financial Services in Sheringham in 2011 for advice about how to invest an inheritance.
They discussed purchasing a buy-to-let property, to fund the 24-hour care Mr Turner, 71, of Beeston Regis, would need for the rest of his life.
Peacher, 52, of Blyths Wood Avenue, Costessey, found a house in Breeze Avenue, Aylsham, which Mr Turner trusted him to buy and rent out.
The adviser told Mr Turner he had found a tenant, but that a delay in them moving in meant the property would be empty for some months.
Instead, Peacher and his wife moved in themselves, without telling Mr Turner, and lived rent-free for six months, before paying a rent below the market value from April 2012, with a further 5pc taken off to cover Peacher’s “management fee”.
In total, Norwich Crown Court yesterday heard Mr Turner lost about £11,800.
Peacher had also arranged a residential, not buy-to-let, mortgage costing Leeds Building Society an estimated £9,257.
Prosecutor William Carter said Mr Turner asked solicitors Hayes and Storr to investigate in March 2013. Their work cost him about £10,000.
Shamed financial adviser
“I recognise you are ruined”.
Those words, spoken by Judge Coleman as he sentenced Christopher Peacher for the “elaborate fraud” of a vulnerable pensioner, summed up the financial adviser’s position.
While Peacher appeared to be a comfortably-off man to his victim, the court heard he had a history of personal bankruptcy.
Judge Coleman said he accepted Peacher had been driven to what he did because of the position he then found himself in.
Prosecutor William Carter reeled off a string of financial difficulties, including unpaid rent of his office, and an £11,500 overdraft with the HSBC as of October 2011.
He said Peacher said he is now £120,000 in debt, and in receipt of benefits.
Defence lawyer Michael Clare said he had five children, three of whom live with him, and described him as “an utterly ruined man”.
The court heard his licences had been revoked, and Judge Coleman disqualified him from serving as a director.
He added that because of Peacher, Mr Turner owes North Norfolk District Council back-dated council tax, has recently been threatened with eviction, and has sleepless nights about losing his home.
The court heard Peacher, who pleaded guilty after being told no case would then be brought against his wife, was of previously good character, and “truly remorseful for what happened”.
Judge Nicholas Coleman said Peacher had been working on the assumption Mr Turner would not live long, and the fraud would never come to light.
He added: “It must go out that financial advisers cannot possibly be allowed to get away with this type of fraud without the court protecting the elderly and vulnerable and Mr Turners of this world.”
He jailed Peacher for 27 months.
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