Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Bangor gambler who swindled tenants out of £50k took drugs to Australia

Exclusive: Tenants swindled out of £50K

Colin Davidson
Colin Davidson

By Paul Higgins

This is the north Down gambling addict and £50,000 property deposits swindler who smuggled drugs into Australia for local paramilitary loan sharks.

Bangor crook Colin Davidson's troubles with paramilitaries emerged at Downpatrick Crown last week where he confessed to defrauding more than two dozen housing tenants out of their deposits to feed his gambling habit.

Davidson (40) - who was jailed for a year in Australia for smuggling drugs for shadowy NI paramilitaries - smiled as he left Downpatrick Crown Court a free man.

Dodgy Davidson took a sharp inhaled breath as Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said he was imposing an 18-month jail sentence, only for him to exhale deeply a few seconds later as the judge added he was suspending it for three years.

The court heard Davidson's pensioner parents had set up a £17,000 pot to partially compensate the 26 victims and had also paid off his debts to paramilitaries.

Judge Miller also told the court: "To think that the tentacles of these (paramilitary) organisations stretches so far is something that I find appalling and frightening."

Davidson, from Perry Road, had initially denied all 51 offences against him - one count of fraud by false representation and 50 counts of fraud by abuse of position - but last month some of those charges were put to him again and it was then that dodgy dealing Davidson finally admitted his guilt.

Sign In

Australia's gold coast

The fraud by abuse of position charges outline that over the six-and-a-half years between January 2010 and June 2016, Davidson stole £49,122.83.

A prosecutor said Davidson started up a business called "Locate" in 2005, acting as a letting agent for rental properties for dozens of properties across north Down, but he was pocketing tenants' deposits - and some had paid double to secure properties.

In June 2016, Ards and North Down Borough Council took action and as a result Davidson was arrested and questioned about the string of frauds where he claimed he had amassed gambling debts and was effectively "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

As a result of those gambling debts, the court heard how Davidson fell into debt with local paramilitaries and, unable to pay them back, he was given three options - pay the money back, take his 'punishment' or smuggle drugs to Australia. Davidson took the third option and ended up spending a year behind bars in jail for drug courier offences before returning home where the PSNI scooped him for fraud.

Defence counsel Aaron Thompson said Locate, which had premises on Bangor High Street for which Davidson still owes £4,500 in unpaid rates, was started up by the defendant when he received a compensation claim but that it got into difficulties because of the "credit crunch", coupled with Davidson's business practices and his "pernicious and striking gambling addiction".

He revealed Davidson's parents had "paid off" the paramilitaries from his father's car parts business, and there was a pot of £17,000 available to be spread among the various deposit fraud victims, many of whom sat disgruntled in the public gallery.

"His family have shouldered the burden here," said the lawyer who further revealed that while declared bankrupt, divorced father-of-one Davidson was working for his father's firm, earning £1,200 a month.

Imposing the suspended jail sentence, Judge Miller said Davidson "will spend every single day as a recovering addict" who had "masterminded his own destruction".

"Through his time in Australia, there's been that Damascan road conversion, if I can put it in Biblical terms," said the judge.

Australia's gold coast
Australia's gold coast

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph