A callous fraudster has been ordered to pay back just £1 after conning his friends, colleagues and ex-partner out of £113,513 in a fake investment scheme. Matthew Normyle, 41, invited seven people to invest in his boiler business, which he claimed would ensure them modest returns after 90 days, whilst he was living in Rochdale.
However, he repeatedly came up with excuses when he was due to pay them back, and his investors were left massively out of pocket, Manchester Crown Court heard. Over the course of two-and-a-half years, he took a total of £113,513.26. He did pay back one friend to the tune of £10,000 as they had fallen into financial difficulty, but that was shy of £15,000 of what they had already given him.
Normyle, of Lord Street, Morecambe, was jailed for two years and 10 months in January this year after pleading guilty to eight offenses of fraud by false representation. Now, following a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, he has been ordered to pay back just £1.
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At today’s short hearing (May 4), the benefit figure was recorded as £113,513, and a confiscation order was made to the sum of £1 due to Normyle’s limited available assets.
At the previous hearing prosecutor Claire Thomas detailed each victim who had been affected by Normyle’s offending. The first was Stuart Smith who had known Normyle since 2012 and believed they were ‘good friends’.
After moving in with Normyle in May 2018, he was offered an investment opportunity as Normyle ‘knew he had £10,000 having sold his bar abroad’. Normy advised him that he purchased boilers and sold them to Jones Homes under his business, which he called ‘Elite Heating’.
“There were further discussions and he decided to send him the £10,000 as he believed the defendant was a good friend and trusted him,” Ms Thomas said. Mr Smith was due to be paid in August of that year, but Normyle said that due to tax issues, it would be put back to September.
Normyle asked for a further investment of £3,000, and later said he was taking Jones Homes to court as they hadn’t paid him and would need some cash to assist, and Mr Smith gave him £2,000. Normyle then said that the business’ accountant had stolen the money and was being investigated for fraud. In total, Mr Smith paid him £25,000.
The next victim, Anthony Rooney, was offered a similar investment opportunity and following further discussions, he made an investment of £25,500. He also introduced his friend of his, Mark Grundy, who later invested £26,000 in the scheme.
“Mr Rooney had taken money from his overdraft, credit cards, loans and money that was left for his children,” Ms Thomas continued. “Normyle later paid him back £10,000 as he was struggling financially.”
Similar excuses were made, and despite agreeing to meet up with both men to pay the money back, Normyle never showed.
Another victim affected was Joshua Miller who previously worked with Normyle, who paid £7,500. Also affected was Harry Bourne, a colleague of Normyle’s, later becoming a close friend, who invested £5,000; Normyle’s ex-girlfriend, Juliana Amaro, who invested £3,250, and Craig Day who invested £5,000.
The only exception to the fraud was Dawn Lavery, who became aware of Normyle through work he did for her dad. She was led to believe by Normyle that her boiler was in a ‘dangerous state’ and quoted £2,500 for him to carry out the work.
In emotional victim personal statements, each victim shared their devastation following Normyle’s breach of trust. Mr Rooney said he had to work overtime to maintain his finances for him, that he had suffered from depression and felt ’embarrassed and stupid’.
Mr Bourne said Normyle had given him seemingly legitimate details and had shown him bank statements of how much money he was making, and so made him believe that if he invested the money, he would get it back. “It turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life,” he said.
Mr Grundy said the offense had a big impact on him as he had promised his daughter that he would help with a deposit for her – but had been unable to assist her. He said he had been working overtime to save some money and felt down and depressed.
In a police interview, Normyle told officers that he had been in debt from numerous lenders and payday loans. “He said he was not sure how much currently, but he estimated at about £60,000 and £70,000,” the prosecutor said.
“He said he picked people who trusted him as targets, and admitted to the other victims.” Normyle was said to have no previous convictions.
Mitigating, Gerald Baxter said his client expressed remorse and was ashamed of what he had done. “He accepts what he did was totally wrong and totally dishonest and totally selfish,” he said.
“He accepts the victims in this case were people who were friends, colleagues and they trusted him, and he took advantage and abused the trust they had in him. He accepts that he got himself in financial difficulty and tried to get out of it by a scheme that was completely fictitious.”
Mr Baxter added that Normyle previously had a good career in the RAF, then worked for British Gas, but lost his job and began overspending.
Sentencing, Recorder Daniel Prowse said: “All of the victims in this case were hard working people themselves, with families who worked hard, only for their money to be taken from them.
“So many victims lost so much money which demonstrated what a conniving, cold and callous fraudster you were. They trusted you, and you targeted them because they trusted you.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.