Page last updated at 19:39 GMT, Monday, 3 September 2001 20:39 UK

Conman 'millionaire' jailed

A man who posed as a lottery millionaire to try to save his marriage has been jailed for three years.

Howard Walmsley, 43, told his wife he had won a jackpot of up to £8.4m.

Walmsley, of Intake, Doncaster, South Yorkshire promised to buy a £300,000 farmhouse, which prompted the couple who owned it to move into a caravan to speed up the sale.

He also conned banks, a solicitor, an architect, a car firm, and two women friends.

He was trying to save his marriage. By doing that, he caused himself even more problems in the long run
Paul Watson, prosecuting

Sentencing him at Sheffield Crown Court, Judge Mrs Jane Shipley, said: "You conned your victims but you will not con this court."

He admitted 12 offences at an earlier hearing, claiming he got carried away while attempting to salvage his business and his marriage to wife Kathy, 42.

Judge Shipley said: "I take the view that you lived in a fantasy world.

"You wanted to aspire to the high life, to appear successful, but you seem to lack what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur - so you embarked on a scheme of lies and deceit."

False promises

Prosecutor Paul Watson said the offences took place between 1997 and 1999 and involved a total of at least £37,000.

"He duped a number of people into giving him money or goods or kept them waiting for money owing to them with false promises and worthless cheques."

Banks and building societies were duped into giving Walmsley credit and he also conned car firms into lending him three top-of-the-range Jaguars.

Mr Watson added that two women whom Walmsley had formed relationships with were conned out of thousands of pounds.

He also enlisted the help of an architect who drew up plans to add a swimming pool, gymnasium and garages to the farmhouse.

"He was simply stringing everyone along," said Mr Watson.

Business difficulties

Walmsley was arrested in April 1999 and eventually admitted the lottery win was a lie.

Andrew Hatton, defending, said Walmsley had an "impulsive, risk-taking personality".

I feel Howard should not have been jailed for what he has done
Kathy Walmsley

He said Walmsley thought up the idea of winning the lottery when his business got into difficulties.

"There came a stage when he tried to redeem the position by claiming he had won the lottery," said Mr Hatton.

"He was trying to save his marriage. By doing that, he caused himself even more problems in the long run."

Judge Shipley said she would be failing in her public duty if she did not jail Walmsley.

Speaking outside the court, Mrs Walmsley said: "I feel Howard should not have been jailed for what he has done."

"He did it to keep us together. I'm standing by him."

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