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'Bandit of Gold sold fake Rolex'.

Byline: By Liz Keen South Wales Echo

A jeweller cheated customers out of large amounts of money by selling fake Rolex and Cartier watches, a court has heard.

Gary Riggs, 43, of Band of Gold in Penarth allegedly tricked one 90-year-old woman out of a pounds 40,000 diamond ring.

Prosecutor Meirion Davies told Cardiff Crown Court how another customer saw her mother's watch for sale in the window when she thought it had been melted down to make a bracelet.

She was so angry that she renamed the town centre premises Bandit of Gold.

Mr Davies said: 'This is a deeply dishonest man.'

Riggs - a jeweller for more than 20 years - denies 14 charges of theft, deception and witness intimidation.

He is accused of persuading elderly Muriel Whitehouse to part with her pounds 40,000 solitaire ring in exchange for a quartz copy worth pounds 100.

And he is also accused of stealing pounds 1,240 from her Halifax account when she gave him her passbook to withdraw pounds 25.

His other 'victims' are said to include one friend who bought a pounds 24,000 Rolex watch and found it was a fake, a second who paid pounds 14,000 for a ring which was worth half that and a cousin who saw his jewellery for sale in the shop after he asked for it to be melted down.

Mr Davies said: 'He was fobbed off with lies and some cheap bangles. It shows how Riggs treated customers, even those he was related to.'

It is claimed the cousin - Mark Gulliford - was later intimidated when his family's car was followed and he was told by a man, 'If you carry on this case against Gary, I will kill you'.

When he was arrested last year on suspicion of swindling customers, Riggs, of Mariners Reach, Lynmouth Drive, Sully, told police his ex-wife Linda had looked after the books and got him into trouble.

Following the arrest he is alleged to have intimidated her new husband Anthony Aitkin in a telephone call.

Mr Davies said: 'He called the couple 'dirty stinking grasses' and then told Mr Aitken he was going to get even with Linda.'

(proceeding)
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 22, 2006
Words:365
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