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Conman jailed for 'despicable' scam

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A conman posed as a Parachute Regiment hero to trick people into sponsoring him to raise cash to fulfil the dying wish of a "terminally- ill" girl, a court heard.

Martin Heaver used a Paras beret and regimental T-shirt he bought on eBay to support his story telling donors he was carrying out a series of parachute jumps to raise enough money to send five-year-old Ellie Simpson to Florida to meet Mickey Mouse.

But Lincoln Crown Court was told the whole story was a fraud as the little girl, whom he claimed lived in Waltham on the Wolds, did not exist.

He collected hundreds of pounds in sponsorship from people and companies, including in the Melton area.

Heaver not only had no intention to carry out the jumps but also had never served in any section of the armed forces. He was a factory worker and was in debt.

Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, said Heaver included the Paras' logo on his sponsorship forms and claimed he was travelling to Aldershot Barracks to carry out seven jumps over a five-hour period.

As the date of the jumps approached, Heaver went live on air on a local radio station, when he posed as the father of Ellie and thanked himself for undertaking the fund-raising event.

Mr Lowe said "It was a web of lies. There was no five-year-old girl who was terminally-ill. Ellie Simpson was fictitious. There were no parachute jumps and the money ended up in his own pocket.

"He raised between £900 and £1,000. Nearly 100 people sponsored him. Some donated £5 or £10, some less and some more. He started handing out sponsorship forms primarily to people he knew and in locations he knew.

"These included Kettleby Foods factory, at Melton Mowbray, Santander Bank and a Chinese takeaway. One of the locations where he had most success in obtaining sponsorship was the factory in Melton, where one suspects those providing donations were not on huge salaries."

Mr Lowe said Heaver's downfall came after he was pictured in his local newspaper.

The photographer became suspicious and, together with a friend, they used a bogus e-mail account to contact Heaver and went on to trap him into confessing he was a fraud.

Heaver (46), of London Road, Grantham, admitted fraud between April 3 and May 26, 2012. He was jailed for six months.

The court heard he received a suspended jail sentence in 2009 after stealing £12,000 from G4S while working for them as a security guard.

Judge Sean Morris told him "What you did was despicable. People were taken in. It has to be an immediate sentence of imprisonment to mark the seriousness of this fraud and to deter others from behaving in such an appalling way."

Conman jailed for 'despicable' scam


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