Plenty Of Fish romance fraudster who conned women out of more than £210,000 is jailed

A serial fraudster who conned two women out of more than £210,000 has been jailed for 10 years.

Motor dealer Richard Robinson, 67, groomed vulnerable women into giving him money and convinced them to put their houses on the market, Hove Crown Court heard.

The prosecution said Robinson, who was also known as Gary Rogers, conned two women in 2017 and 2018.

He told the court that he had not targeted the women and had genuinely cared for them.

One of his victims was a registered carer who had been caring for a vulnerable man for 15 years.

Robinson – of Red Hill, Camerton, near Bath, Somerset – showered her with “messages of affection” and they commenced a relationship.

When the man she had been caring for died, she was left “frazzled and deeply upset”.

This did not stop Robinson from taking her to a building society “within hours” of the funeral, and then to her bank the next day to facilitate the transfer of funds to him.

In a moving statement read out by the prosecutor, the woman told the court: “I feel utterly violated. I will never be the same again.”

She described Robinson’s actions as a “campaign of manipulation and deceit” and said he “manipulated my isolation and vulnerability”.

Robinson’s other victim, whom he convinced to sell her home in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, and pay the funds into his account, said she felt “betrayed”.

In her statement, the mother-of-two, who met Robinson on dating website Plenty Of Fish on Boxing Day, said: “He left me with no water, no heating.

“My hopes and dreams are not just taken, he turned them into weapons against me. (We) trusted him and he’s taken everything from us.”

The prosecution said the staggering figures conned out of the two women for the latest offences added up to more than £210,000.

The court heard that a third woman had put her house on the market and was engaged to marry Robinson, but police alerted her in time.

Defence barrister William England cited his client’s guilty pleas to the fraud and theft matters, and read out a letter in which Robinson expressed his remorse.

Judge Paul Tain, however, said there was “no marker whatsoever to demonstrate remorse” other than the letter.

He continued: “The two victims were manipulated and manoeuvred, deviously victimised by a confidence trickster whose primary purpose was to extract from them everything that he possibly could.

“It’s clearly targeted, it’s clearly romance fraud.”

The judge described the offending as “wicked criminality” and “abuse of trust of the worst sort”.

Robinson was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday for two charges of fraud and two charges of theft, to which he pleaded guilty, as well as a charge of witness intimidation and two counts of battery, of which he was convicted in his absence.

He was previously jailed in Wales in 2013 for other romance frauds.

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