MEDWAY MESSENGER - MONDAY 16th MAY 2005

HIGH-FLYING CONMAN QUICKLY GROUNDED

MAN JAILED AFTER DUPING OTHERS THAT HE WAS HEAD OF A LEADING BANK

A conman fleeced victims while living in a fantasy world of grandiose plans to set up a bank and buy hotels, a court heard on Friday.

Colin Barden even used his dying father's identity to obtain loans totalling £125,000 from finance companies.

Jailing the 45-year old for two-and-a-half years, Judge Warwick McKinnon told him "It is quite clear to me that you are, and have been for some time, a highly plausible, skilled and sophisticated confidence trickster. You have been living in a dream world to achieve your own-ends."

Maidstone Crown Court heard that an investigation was launched after two of Bardens's "employees" contacted the police.

Peter Alcock, prosecuting, said Barden in 2002 hired Susan Chantler to provide secretarial services and Andrew Gliddon to be his chauffeur.

Barden, who lived at his father's home in Drewery Drive, Gillingham, contacted Mr. Gliddon telling him he was chairman or chief executive of the Adam Thomas Bank.

Mr Alcock said: "They believed it to be, as with other complainants in the case that it was a normal regulated bank that he had a key role in running. But they received no salary or payment for the work they did."

Mr. Alcock said Barden who used the alias Steve Winter, ended up owing Miss Chantler and Mr. Glidden about £2500 each.

Mr. Gliddon drove Barden to various meetings, including one to Manchester and another to Wales, where he pretended he was buying a hotel.

Mr. Alcock said it was a similar story in relation to other victims.

A London company provided virtual offices services on the Internet; P B Group Ltd, and Keven Bampton, of City Press, Rochester, provided office stationery; Alfred Daoud, Paul Greenword and Richard Leaney all provided chauffeur services; Matthew Quesne, of Morecambe, Lancashire, provided web design for the "bank"; a hotel in Blackpool was not for meetings and services, food and drink was obtained from Hempstead House Hotel in Bapchild, Sittingbourne; the services of Colin Lindsay were obtained to carry a survey on the hotel in Wales.

The offences involved a total of between £20,000 and £25,000

The prosecutor said Barden obtained loans of £90,000 and £25,000 by pretending to be his father Gordon, who was terminally ill and later died.

A relative of Barden's called the police and expressed concern about what was happening.

Barden admitted six charges at attempting to obtain services by deception, three of evasion of liability, one of obtaining services by deception, two of obtaining property by deception, two of obtaining a money transfer by deception, two of forgery and two of using a false instrument with intent.

Judge McKinnon jailed Barden, saying only a custodial sentence was justified because of the magnitude of offences.