Belfast Telegraph

Conman jailed for elaborate £310,000 scam on Belfast jewellers

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A conman who redirected gold and jewellery deliveries from Goldsmiths shops into the hands of an organised crime gang has been sentenced to two years.

Fraudster John Cartmill (31) fronted the gang's sophisticated operations – netting them £310,000.

In one deception, Cartmill, from the Old Brewery Lane in Belfast, posed as a member of staff in the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast city centre where he was staying as a guest.

The confidence trickster made contact with other guests and convinced a number of them to hand over their credit card details.

Prosecuting lawyer David McClean had earlier told Belfast Crown Court how Cartmill had contacted courier and taxi firms on five occasions and redirected the delivery of gold and jewellery from various Goldsmiths shops.

In the largest of these frauds, said the lawyer, a consignment worth £220,000 was collected from a depot in Dundalk and bundled into a number of vans, all with Northern Irish registrations.

In other offences, Mr McClean described how Cartmill managed to get hold of engineering equipment, tiles, tubes for sunbeds and catering equipment.

Following his arrest, Cartmill initially refused to answer police questions but finally claimed he had become involved as a result of threats.

The swindler eventually pleaded guilty to a total of 22 charges of fraud by false representation between October and November 2009 and a further charge of obstructing police by giving a false name.

"The police view is that the offences were committed by an organised crime gang," said Mr McClean.

"It's more likely he was brought in for his expertise," he added.

Defence QC Gregory Berry described Cartmill's role as that of a "facilitator" in the frauds for which he was paid £20,000.

The lawyer revealed, however, that at the time the frauds were being carried out, Cartmill was on probation and doing community service for similar offences.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said this was an aggravating factor in his view.

Ordering Cartmill to spend half his two-year sentence in jail and half on supervised licence, Judge McFarland told him while he accepted others had been involved in the "sophisticated confidence trickstering... you were a necessary cog in the criminal activity".

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