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Swindler fleeced widow out of pounds 700,000.

A Midland accountant who financed a luxury lifestyle by swindling nearly pounds 700,000 out of a trusting elderly widow was jailed for nine years yesterday.

Father-ohree John Duggan (51) pretended to invest Mrs Anne Hamer's money, but used it to pay for his country home, racehorses and life as a director of Hereford United FC.

The widow, who trusted Duggan as a family friend, only found out about the deception in her dying days.

Duggan, former finance director with the club, persuaded Mrs Hamer to sign cheques over to him and forged her signature to obtain nearly pounds 200,000.

In all he withdrew pounds 688,000 from her bank and building society accounts and when she died, aged 87, only pounds 10,000 of her fortune was left.

Judge Christopher Morton told Duggan: "The crimes are all the worse because Mrs Hamer relied totally on your integrity.

"She was in her late eighties with both her husband and son dead. Not only did she trust you, she was dependent on you."

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard that Duggan lived the high life in his luxury country home, complete with swimming pool, at Gladestry, near Hay-on-Wye.

He had a string of trotting race horses once valued at pounds 225,000 which he had to sell for pounds 30,000 when he was made bankrupt.

Duggan claimed Mrs Hamer, of Hay-on-Wye, agreed to give him money in an attempt to keep him solvent.

The court heard that since her death pounds 188,000 taken from her building society account had been refunded by the Alliance & Leicester.

The jury found Duggan guilty of six charges of deception.

After the case, Det Insp Simon Powell, of Dyfed Powys Police, said: "Duggan's jail sentence is a warning to professional people not to take advantage of trusting clients.

"This is a very sad case. Mrs Hamer treated Duggan as a family friend.

"She only realised what had happened in the last six months of her life and it soured her last days."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 7, 1998
Words:338
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