A CALLOUS conman who fleeced a retired Warwick woman out of more than £400,000 after convincing her he was investing the money and one of his accomplices have both been jailed.
Former wine salesman Christopher Butler pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to conspiring to defraud his 67-year-old victim out of the money between September 2010 and February 2013.
Two men he recruited to launder the money by having it paid into their accounts, his uncle Raymond Butler and taxi driver Ozalp Djemal, pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property.
Christopher Butler, 31, of Southbrook Drive, Cheshunt, Herts, was jailed for four years and eight months after being given credit for his guilty plea.
Djemal, 58, of Charnwood Road, Enfield, Middlesex, was jailed for nine months – but Raymond Butler’s case was adjourned for a ‘trial of issue’ following a dispute over when he became aware of his nephew’s dishonesty.
Prosecutor Ian Speed said Butler had met his victim, a retired Warwick woman who knew him as Christopher Sinclair, while he was working as a salesman with a company called European Fine Wines, of which she was a client.
Mr Speed said: “He breached that position of trust. He had no authority to receive payments from clients, let alone pay them into any bank account other than that of the company.
“He persuaded her to invest, through him, in commodities other than wine.
“She dealt with him on the basis that he had businesses called Advanced Global Trading and Charles Sinclair Associates, and he told her that her money was being invested on shares in a commodities fund.”
After a string of payments totalling over £50,000 he persuaded the woman the fund was growing and that more payments were required for costs and to ‘reach the next level.’
After she became concerned about the lack of promised pay-outs, she was told a further £20,000 was needed to release the fund, which she made.
To con her into making more payments, Butler introduced her to a man he called Jack Barclay, supposedly a senior member of the commodities firm, who reassured her her investments were safe.
Eventually the woman became so concerned she confided in her daughter and son-in-law who contacted the fraud squad.
But even then Butler managed to persuade her account costs of £13,500 had to be paid to end her contributions and then to pay another £11,500 to ‘fulfil a trade.’
He continued to trick her into paying even more amounts, and by the time he was arrested his victim had paid out a total of £476,000 from various accounts held by her and her family.
Of that £228,893 was paid to Butler, £67,726 to Djemal and £133,700 to Raymond Butler, added Mr Speed.
Richard Franck, for Butler, said he was genuinely remorseful, as was Djemal according to his barrister.
A man of previous good character, Djemal agreed to take part because of debts, and although he laundered £67,000 through his account, most was passed to Butler, and he only gained £3,500.
Raymond Butler’s barrister said he had been approached by Butler who claimed he was having trouble with his bank and needed another account to facilitate the transfer of money related to wine, and ‘foolishly obliged.’
Raymond Butler was granted bail ahead of the ‘trial of issue’.