AN ELDERLY chartered accountant was looking forward to a comfortable semi-retirement until he was fleeced out of his life savings by a heartless businessman.
As his victim ended up borrowing from his children and scraping round to pay for a bottle of milk, callous Kevin Franklin lived the high life.
Warwick Crown Court heard 58 year-old Franklin, who ran the restaurant at Wootton Park campsite at Wotton Wawen when his scam began, ended up fleecing the accountant out of more than £400,000.
Franklin, of Westgrove Avenue, Solihull, was jailed for four-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to fraud and obtaining money transfers by deception.
Prosecutor Harpreet Sandhu said: “This was a protracted episode of dishonesty over some eight years, and the total obtained by the defendant over that period was £401,210.
“In December 2005 his victim, who is now 80, was a chartered accountant who it was hoped would be in semi-retirement shortly after that date.
“But he was introduced by a mutual acquaintance to the defendant who wanted some financial assistance.”
The accountant was shown the restaurant and the accounts which indicated the business was making £60,000 a year, and agreed to lend Franklin £15,000 to carry out a refurbishment.
Franklin had spun him a tale about not being able to go to a bank himself because he was an undischarged bankrupt as a result of a previous business he ran with a former girlfriend.
He also claimed his businessman father had passed away and that he was due to inherit around £500,000 – but in fact his father had died 20 years earlier.
The accountant believed Franklin’s business was a profitable one, and had no reason to suspect that if he loaned the money he would not be repaid with the promised interest.
“But from that point on he became the defendant’s cash pot.” said Mr Sandhu.
As the amount he handed over became larger and larger he became trapped in a growing spiral while Franklin continually blamed the misdemenours of others for his financial problems.
Franklin’s claims included that a firm of solicitors had been provided with funds but had failed to pay debts, which he said the Law Society was investigating, and that he was being pursued by the Child Support Agency – and each time the accountant helped him out with more money.
As his victim ended up in a precarious financial state, Franklin conned more money out of him by claiming his sister had died in Canada and he needed to go there to sort out her estate to get his share of what their father had left him.
He then contacted his victim to claim that as he was on his way back he had been stopped by border officers in the United States because of the amount of cash he had on him, and that the cash was seized and he had been prevented from leaving.
In fact he had been using the money to fund his own lavish lifestyle, including paying for his wedding and honeymoon in the Italian Alps while he was supposedly destitute in the US.
In a statement the accountant said the pressure of the situation had become ‘overwhelming,’ and he had struggled to sleep for many years as Franklin’s demands for money ‘took over my whole life.’
He had been forced to sell his house and lost his office in Birmingham.
After his children finally persuaded him to go to the police Franklin was arrested and confessed he had ‘played him.’
Lee Marklew, defending, said Franklin, who had previously run a successful wine bar in Henley, was a broken man whose wife had divorced him as a result.
Jailing Franklin, Judge Alan Parker told him: “I am asked to take into account that you are 58 years of age, but you are considerably younger than your targeted victim who was already in his 70s when you played him for all he was worth.
“Over eight years you maintained a sustained campaign of deception, taking advantage of his kindness; and over that time, in circumstances which have ruined him both financially and personally.
“You plainly saw him as a soft target, and you used him, and used him, and used him; and you told lies, some of them beyond wicked, and always you knew he would pay up.
“You lived a lavish lifestyle at the cost of an elderly man’s life savings. Society demands that you should be punished.”