MEDWAY MESSENGER - MONDAY 15th AUGUST 2005

JAILED CONMAN ORDERED TO REPAY VICTIMS JUST £1

Conman who stole thousands ordered to pay nominal sum

A CONMAN who fleeced victims of thousands of pounds while living in a fantasy world of grandiose plans to set up a bank and buy hotels has been told to pay back just £1.

Colin Barden, who was jailed earlier this year for two-and-half years, even used his dying father's identity to obtain loans totalling £115,000.

Maidstone Crown Court heard that the prosecution and defence had agreed that this amounted to Barden's total financial benefit from his scams.

However, prosecutor Peter Alcock said the 45-year-old's realisable assets totalled just £1 - and it was this nominal amount that Judge Warwick McKirnon ordered to be confiscated, giving him until the end of the court day to pay.

But Barden could find himself back in court if he inherits part of his father's home, said to have equity of about £200,000.

Barden, formerly of Drewery Drive, Gillingham, admitted six charges of 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.

The court heard that an investigation was launched in 2002 after two of Barden's "employees" contacted the police. One had been hired as a chauffeur by Barden purporting to be the chairman or chief executive of the Adam Thomas Bank.

Neither were paid for the work they did. Mr Alcock said it was a similar story with his other victims, which included office stationery suppliers, a web designer and hotels in Sittingbourne and Blackpool.

The figure of £115,000 was made up of two loans of £90,000 and £25,000 that Barden obtained, by pretending to be his father. The cash was forwarded
to the father's account, which Barden had control of.

Jailing him in May, Judge McKinnon described Barden as "a classic confidence trickster". A psychiatrist's report stated that Barden suffered from "long-term grandiosity".