Man sobs after he is found not guilty of fraud

Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court

A man has been found not guilty of allegations he defrauded the boss of a posh day spa out of £1m in a bogus business deal.

Neil Casson, 48, of no fixed abode but who formerly lived in Garstang, started sobbing as the majority verdicts were given by jurors, who had taken almost five hours to deliberate at Preston Crown Court.

Casson, described as a penniless man by the prosecution, had denied two counts of fraud and encouraging Sean Barley, the CEO of Nirvana Spa in Berkshire, to invest in a scheme to import sewing machines into the UK.

However, despite his acquittal he faces sentencing for a number of other frauds thought to total around £500,000.

Judge Heather Lloyd told him: “You must understand that despite the fact you’ve been acquitted of the largest matter, nevertheless you are waiting sentence for a large number of other matters and must expect a substantial sentence of imprisonment.”

The frauds he stands to be sentenced for, which he admitted at an earlier stage, involve 19 victims from across Lancashire, and include bogus schemes to invest in importing sewing machines, fancy cars, and jetskis.

Businessman Mr Barley, giving evidence by video link from Reading, told Preston Crown Court he provided £204,628 from his own bank account and a further £973,940 from the accounts of the upmarket spa.

But Casson denied the allegations and claimed he was given £100,000 by Barley which he did invest in sewing machines, but that he had allowed him to “do what he wants” with the other money.

He is expected to be sentenced on May 24.