Practised fraudsman brought to justice by Sussex detectives
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A practised con-man who preyed on two women has been brought to justice following an investigation by Sussex Police detectives working with colleagues from other forces.
Richard Robinson, also known as Gary Rogers, 64, a motor dealer, of Red Hill, Camerton, near Bath, was sentenced to a total of ten years imprisonment, including eight years consecutively for offences against each of the women, when he appeared in custody at Hove Crown Court on Monday (6 July).
He had pleaded guilty at a hearing in May to two counts of fraud against the women and two of theft of motor vehicle, and had also been convicted in his absence of witness intimidation and two counts of battery against one of his victims.
He was given a year for each theft of two thefts of motor vehicle, to run concurrently, two years for witness intimidation and six months each for two common assaults, concurrent with each other but consecutive to the eight years sentences.
The court heard that he had defrauded one of the women out of £111,000 and the other one of £100,000.
The cars he took from people who did business with him were valued at £17,4000.
In 2017 and 2018, having previously been convicted of four 'romance frauds' at Mold Crown Court in North Wales on 18 October 2013, Robinson targeted the two women in Sussex, both care workers, at the same time, using online dating websites. He used money stolen from one victim to help romance his next victim.
Detective Constable Noel Simmonds of Sussex Police said; "Robinson sought to convince his victims, both in their fifties and from East Preston and Mid-Sussex, that they were going to get married, and that they should sell their houses in order to pool their resources and buy a dream home together. He set up fake identities in the names of Barry Wise and Rory Stewart to send emails with “proof of funds” that were convincing enough to convince estate agents, as well as his victims, that they were genuine.
"Robinson told his victims that he was a successful businessman but claimed previous financial irregularities prevented him from holding a business account or being the director of his own companies. He used this to convince his victims to register businesses and business accounts for him in their names, including a Jaguar car repair garage called South Coast Jags at Angmering.
"At the garage, vehicles that he had taken deposits for repairing were instead stripped for parts, whilst their owners were repeatedly fobbed off as Robinson claimed to have various family emergencies and illnesses preventing him from being able to complete the commissioned work. The companies ended up heavily in debt as suppliers and creditors were not paid.
"Robinson also told his victims that he would pay the utilities and council tax as his share of the household bills, but did not.
"From one victim Robinson stole the proceeds of her house sale and the savings she had put aside for her children, sold her car, and left her with crippling amounts of debt as well as creditors, suppliers, and Companies House hounding her for moneys owed by the business set up in her name.
"Over time Robinson became sloppy and one of his victims found items, such as delivery receipts for flower deliveries, that enabled them to find the other.
"In March 2018 the victim with whom Robinson was in a relationship with at the time received a letter from the other woman and confronted him about it. Robinson hit her then grabbed her around the neck with one hand, his thumb crushing in over her windpipe, and with the other hand covered her mouth and pinched her nose shut as he dragged her across the house, shouting abuse at her. Fortunately she managed to fight free and fled, locking herself in the bathroom to call the police.
"Police caught and arrested him later the same day. He denied the offences and was released whilst investigations were carried out, but in June that year we learned that he was pressuring the victim to drop the case and he was arrested, charged and taken to court. The court released him with bail conditions, but Robinson never re-appeared at court, instead going on the run.
"In November that year, acting on information received, police in Wiltshire stopped a vehicle that Robinson was travelling in, but he used a previously unknown false identity to convince them he was not the wanted person and he was let on his way.
"However in August 2019 we were working with colleagues in Wiltshire, and Avon and Somerset, on leads connecting Robinson to a fake financial services company in Bath and two repair garages nearby. On 25 August PC Barbara Salvage from Avon and Somerset found and arrested Robinson and he was brought back to Sussex where he was interviewed over four frauds and seven thefts of motor vehicles.
"He denied everything and tried to blame it all on the victims but was charged and has been in custody since.
“Fraud committed by someone in an intimate relationship with you is especially devastating, as a betrayal by the one person in the world you should be able to trust most to protect and cherish you. Richard Robinson is a practiced conman and abuser who carefully groomed and isolated his victims over several months, convincing them that he was the only person they could trust before taking everything from them and then threatening, belittling and degrading them in the hope that they would not have the courage to step forward.
“We would like to praise the victims for their outstanding strength and bravery in supporting this case for over two years, including several months where there appeared to be no progress at all.
“The last few months have been particularly hard for them as carers and I hope that they feel the benefit of having the matter finally dealt with so that they can look to a brighter future without him."
Robinson has also been known as Nick Phillips, Gary Jones, Gary Robinson, Gerald Robinson, Gary Roberts, Gareth Roberts, Gary Rogers, Gary Rodgers, Nick Richardson, Gary Richardson, Gary Green, Garry Reagan, Stephen Davidson, Greg Krauter, Gary Brooks and Peter Pollard.
Noel Simmonds said; “I believe that there may be other women that Robinson has met both whilst living in Sussex and whilst on the run across the country, and who will have information they could share with us.
"In such cases we often find that people do not come forward either because they still believe lies they have been told or are too embarrassed to admit what happened.
“There is no shame in being fooled in this way.
"Anyone with information can contact us at any time either online or by calling 101.
“We would also like to thank PC Barbara Salvage for her exceptional dedication in hunting and capturing this offender, which has doubtlessly saved many women in the months he spent on remand in prison.”
For information on romance fraud and how to prevent it, see the Sussex Police website.