A CUMBRIAN man was asked for thousands of pounds as part of a bizarre fraud which involved a bogus claim that his estranged wife had been kidnapped and was in danger.

Workington man Kieran Winder, 30, warned his victim to not contact the police, claiming the kidnappers were 'violent people'.

But his amateurish fraud bid seemed doomed to failure because he used his own phone to contact the victim and even gave the man his first name and bank details, meaning he was easily traced.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Winder admitted fraud, two counts of police assault, and causing criminal damage to the police cell he was put into after his arrest.

Prosecutor Andrew Evans outlined the facts.

He described how the husband of the alleged kidnap victim, who was living separately from her in the summer of last year, received a text message from an unknown number on July 22.

The text said that his wife was in “great danger” and needed to “get out of Workington.”

Mr Evans said: “He asked for more detail and was told that she had fallen into debt and then later that she had been kidnapped by people and he was informed that they were violent and would come to his house.

“He lived over an hour away near Sedbergh but the threat to his wife was one which concerned him. One of the messages stated: ‘Do not go to the police.’ Despite that threat, he did go to his local police station.”

The messages continued to come into his phone with repeated threats that people would come to his house and claims that there would be increased violence if he reported the kidnap to the police. 

“By 6pm, there were phone calls coming in,” continued Mr Evans.

“The defendant named himself as Kieran, saying that he had spoken to [the allegedly kidnapped wife] and that she was frightened.”

Winder told the husband that he was acting as go-between with the kidnappers and mentioned a sum of £2,000.

He suggested that he had already paid the kidnappers £700, repeating the suggestion that the man’s wife was in danger.

Mr Evans said: “Phone calls came in every 20 minutes, demanding payment. At this point, the defendant gave the man his bank details so money could be transferred.

“The defendant claimed to know one of the kidnappers and said he was in contact with that person. [The husband] states that at this stage he had no doubt that this was a genuine kidnapping, and his wife was in danger,” said Mr Evans.

“Eventually, he was told that she had ‘been released.”

The husband called his wife at 7pm and she answered, telling her husband that she had been released.

But her tone and answers made her husband suspicious, and it was later confirmed that the woman had been with Winder throughout the day, said Mr Evans.

Her phone messages showed her discussing their need for money and revealed that she was taking drugs and that Winder was “calling her husband.”

Mr Evans described also how Winder reacted when police arrested him at 9pm on July 22 last year. He was verbally abusive to the officers and kicked and headbutted the windows of the police vehicle he was put into.

He admitted taking the drug ketamine before his arrest.

He also misbehaved at the police station, stuffing a blanket down the toilet in his call and spitting at a detention officer and a police officer who went to his cell door to check on him.

The court heard that the victim of the fraud had spent around 12 hours genuinely believing his wife was in danger and also being worried for his own safety.

Winder has 40 offences on his criminal record, the majority for low level violence and public disorder, the court heard.

Kim Whittlestone, defending, said Winder, of Hunday Court, Workington, had struggled because of his mental health and he needed structure to his life.

But since he was remanded in custody seven months ago, he had received a diagnosis and was given medication, which was having a “settling effect” on him.

“For the first time, he’s been cooperative within the prison environment.”

Achieving enhanced prisoner status, he was working as a cleaner. He had also taken an FA coaching course that is run by Sunderland FC, being one of 11 prisoners selected for that training, said the barrister.

He wanted to continue with that work when released. He now felt embarrassed by the way he had  behaved.

Recorder Julian Shaw said the fraud was clearly driven by the defendant's "motivation to obtain money for drugs." 

Yet the fraud was not sophisticated, said the Recorder, noting that Winder provided his first name and his bank details and used his own phone to contact the victim, all of which meant he was traced with relative ease.

“The only mitigation comes from your guilty plea,” the judge told Winder.

He imposed a total sentence of 49 weeks jail. But given that Winder has served the equivalent of a 14 month sentence, he is likely to be released immediately.