An elderly chartered accountant was looking forward to a comfortable semi-retirement until he was fleeced out of his life savings – and more – by a heartless businessman.
As his victim ended up borrowing from his children and scraping round to pay for a pint of milk, callous Kevin Franklin lived the high life.
Warwick Crown Court heard that Franklin, who ran the restaurant at Wootton Park campsite at Wotton Wawen, near Warwick, when his scam began, even paid for his wedding and honeymoon, while his victim was driven to the brink of despair.
The 58-year-old from Solihull ended up fleecing the accountant out of more than £400,000.
He was jailed for four-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to fraud and obtaining money transfers by deception.
The accountant was shown the restaurant in Wootton Wawen 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.
He next had a call asking for £458 from Franklin who said bailiffs were about to remove furniture if they were not paid.
Having provided the £15,000, the accountant felt duty-bound to help out then and on further occasions he was asked for assistance out of fear that, if he did not, Franklin would lose his business and he would not get his money back.
After his children finally persuaded him to go to the police Franklin was arrested and confessed he had ‘played him’.
Lee Marklew, defending, said: “The thought of the inevitable custodial sentence has been utterly terrifying.”
Since his arrest it has been a palpable fear which has affected the quality of his life.”
He said Franklin had been the manager of a BMW dealership before running a successful wine bar in Henley-in-Arden and then taking over the Wootton Hall Country Club which was where he met his victim.
“The proceedings have also crushed him in terms of his personal life,” said Mr Marklew, who said Franklin’s wife has left him and 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 obtained the sum of £401,210.
“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.”