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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Carlisle man convicted of conning cash from multi-millionaire

A 62-year-old man has been convicted for his part in conning a Christian philanthropist out of £11.9 million.

Related: Gang denies conning Christian out of £12m

Arthur “Trevor” Ford-Batey, of Carlisle, was one of three men found guilty at Norwich Crown Court of defrauding businessman Graham Dacre.

They persuaded the millionaire to part with a slice of his fortune with promises of huge profits from a high yield investment fund. Mr Dacre agreed to hand over money so the profits he expected could be ploughed into charitable schemes.

But once he had transferred the funds into an offshore account, the money disappeared, prosecutor Mark Fenhalls told the court.

Mr Fenhalls said the men had created an “air of respectability” and “Christian charity” to trick their victims.

After a three-month trial and more than a week of deliberations, the jury yesterday declared Ford-Batey, of Miles McInnes Court, Stanwix, guilty of conspiring to defraud Mr Dacre.

The jury cleared him of defrauding Dortmund Church and laundering the money.

Alan Hunt, 65, of The Avenue, Poole, was convicted of conspiring to defraud Mr Dacre and the New Apostolic Church in Dortmund and Ian Yorkshire, 62, of Clarendon Villas, Brighton, was found guilty of conspiring to launder criminal property.

David “Fraser” Roberts, 62, of Montpelier Road, Brighton and Kevin Brennan, 55, of Kirkburn, Driffield, were cleared of fraud and money laundering.

Brennan’s brother, Martin, 40, of Bracken Road, Stockton-on-Tees, was cleared of laundering Mr Dacre’s money.

The defendants claimed they believed they were involved in a legitimate enterprise.

As well as Mr Dacre, victims included Utah commodities dealer Randall Schreiber, who parted with £570,000 and the New Apostolic Church in Dortmund, Germany, which lost £12.5m.

Detective constable Chris Gay said: “Although the amounts lost by the victims in this matter were substantial and the way in which they were convinced to part with their funds was complex.

“It was essentially a simple confidence trick.”

Mr Dacre sold his Lind Automotive Group for £108m in 2006 to fund Christian projects.

His enterprises included the Open Youth Trust, a charity which helps young people.

In 2008, he was ranked number 793 in the Sunday Times Rich List and is thought to be worth £70m.

The convicted men are expected to be sentenced today.

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