Bride jailed in Sheffield for conning maid-of-honour out of £27,000 in three year web of deceit
A heartless bride conned her maid of honour out of £27,000 during a three-year campaign of deception by telling her she was due to inherit £77 million following the death of her ex-husband.
But con woman Angela Jayne Kitchener, aged 54, made up a pack of lies to best friend Nicola Reynolds, 41, and never had any intention of paying the money back that she borrowed - it was all a ploy to get the vulnerable, single mum to give her cash, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
In 2017 Kitchener told Miss Reynolds, who was her maid of honour at her second wedding, she was expecting a £30,000 divorce settlement from her ex-husband and asked if she could borrow some money to help her move house. Miss Reynolds took out an Argos credit card, opened a Next account and gave her the details for both.
“She did this on the understanding she would be repaid,” said prosecutor Maryan Almhod.
The following year, she asked Miss Reynolds to be the guarantor on a £10,000 loan, claiming her ex-husband had died and she was due a £7 million payout from the sale of his haulage firm and would settle the loan when the cash came through.
Knowing Miss Reynolds was struggling financially herself, con artist Kitchener said she would eventually be able to pay off her friend’s debts and mortgage and that she and her children would have a ‘good life’ for helping her out during her time of need.
Kitchener also conned a second victim - Carol Ramsden - who was a long-standing friend.
Miss Ramsden agreed to act as a guarantor on a £5,000 loan for Kitchener in 2018 after she told her she was due a payout from the sale of her ex-husband’s haulage firm. But she was forced to repay the loan after Kitchener defaulted on the repayments.
Kitchener’s victims met each other in April 2019 and became suspicious when they began investigating her claims she was coming into money.
They discovered her ex-husband was still alive and didn’t own the haulage firm but had once worked for the company as an HGV driver, so contacted the police.
Ms Almhod, prosecuting, said: “Miss Reynolds was struggling financially and Mrs Kitchener said she would pay off her debts and her mortgage and that she and her children would have a good life. They talked about buying a second home in the Lake District.
“In September 2018 she told Miss Reynolds (that) Kevin Pratt had been killed in a farming accident and she was due a payout. Miss Reynolds loaned the defendant various sums during this period and put off her own mortgage payments in order to assist the defendant.”
Kitchener, of River View, Woolley Grange, Barnsley, wept as she was jailed for three-and-a half years at Sheffield Crown Court after the judge said she was a ‘fantasist’ who had concocted ‘blatant lies’ about her financial circumstances to defraud her best friend along with a second victim.
Sentencing her, Judge David Dixon said: “You lied in the most horrific way to people who said they would have done anything for you. People who were more concerned about you than the risks they were putting themselves at. You knew the deceit and dishonesty would potentially have had bad consequences for them, but you didn’t care.”
Kitchener pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.
In a victim impact statement, Miss Reynolds said: “Angela has played me for a fool for a long time. I dread to think how much money in total she has had from me and my family.
“I was unable to sleep and was very stressed about how she was bearing up. I genuinely cared about Angela and thought she cared about me. She also made me believe I would never have to worry about money again. She made me believe we would be able to travel the world and live a fantastic life.
“This has been very stressful and hard for my mental health and my relationship with my partner and children. The money I gave to my close friend is money I should have spent on my children. She was my best friend and confidante, the family I never had. The lies and deceit she has shown towards me make me question my whole relationship with her.”
Miss Ramsden added: “I believe she preys on single women. I was emotionally vulnerable and I was duped by this woman.”
She added she had suffered loss of sleep, loss of appetite, anxiety and trust issues as a result of Kitchener’s actions, adding: “I agreed to help out of loyalty to my friend. I would never have believed my loyalty and trust would have been betrayed like it has been.”
Michael Cane-Soothill, defending, said Kitchener had no previous convictions and suffered from mental health issues including depression and anxiety and urged the judge to suspend the jail term.
But Judge Dixon said Kitchener’s dishonesty was ‘staggering’.
He said: “Here you had two ladies, both single mothers, both with their own difficulties and both vulnerable to different degrees.
“Most people who are told ‘I am about to win the lottery’, or inherit £5 or £7m, would think ‘this person is an absolute fantasist’ but you were able to convince them because your dishonesty was so well planned, so cunning and so well-orchestrated that they believed you.
“You invented and concocted theories around people which were all blatant lies.
“The reality here is you are upset because you have been caught out and are facing a jail term. The impact on these ladies was devastating. It is in moral terms a complete and utter breach of trust.”