A FERMANAGH businessman who conned acquaintances and people he knew through the church out of almost half a million pounds believed he had the ‘Midas’ touch and would eventually be in a position to reimburse his victims.
However, none of the £486,322 that Eric James Boyd (45) with an address at Clanog Valley in Lisnaskea took from his 17 victims was ever invested in property as he promised.
On Friday last, he stood before the Omagh Crown Court – in the words of defence barrister Eugene Grant – “broken and alone” and back living with his parents at Clieve Road, Fivemiletown, his marriage having collapsed as a result of the crimes.
He was sentenced to two years in jail to be followed by two years on licence when he is released.
Many of his victims sat in the public gallery as the details of Boyd’s fraud which spanned more than four years, from May 2005 to September 2009, were related to the court.
The sums ranged from £2,000 to £200,000 which his victims handed over, believing it was going to be invested in property.
A church minister who was deceived out of £80,000 got the funds back by way of property while another man who gave up £30,000 had £11,000 returned.
For the other 15 people, there has been no compensation.
The court was told the monies were ‘dissipated’ as Boyd tried to get his financial dealings back on course and recoup money owed to him. Investigators have been unable to locate any ‘significant’ assets in the ownership of the defendant.
Sentencing Boyd, Judge Melody McReynolds noted that one of the businesses he used to defraud people was Dream Spanish Properties.
She commented, “It would be facile to say that the dreams turned into nightmares.”
The Crown Court Judge also pointed out that the victims of the fraud “were not faceless” or business organisations.
She told Boyd, “It seems you exploited a network built up through the respectability of your upbringing, people you knew through church, hobbies and even had talked to in school.”
She added that the money was taken from people who were not all wealthy, and included life savings and loans, retirement funds and money that was invested to enhance the educational and housing needs of families.
Judge McReynolds also said Boyd had used his “working capital” as a salesman to target people.
Defence barrister, Eugene Grant said his client began to defraud people when his previously successful business was adversely affected by the economic downturn.
He submitted there was no indication Boyd had enjoyed a lavish lifestyle with the money and was “desperately trying to keep the ship (his business) afloat.”
He added that the defendant believed he could eventually balance the books and held an illusion he had a “Midas touch”, based on his previous business reputation.
Mr Grant concluded: “Through me he simply wants to say, ‘sorry.’ He thought he could turn this around. He couldn’t.”
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