A Stamford antiques dealer has been jailed for five years and four months after he was described by a judge as “a conman”.
Stuart Porter, who traded as Stuart Porter Antiques from premises in Broad Street, Stamford, pleaded guilty to charges involving more than a quarter of a million pounds when he appeared at Lincoln Crown Court.
Martin Hurst, prosecuting, said that dozens of clients entrusted Porter to sell their antiques but he pocketed money from the sale of some of the items and took other items away when he suddenly closed down the business and re-opened trading under a different name in Yarm, North Yorkshire.
Porter also conned investors who loaned him thousands of pounds cash claiming he would give them generous rates of return if they put their money into an electrical export business he said he was running.
He claimed he was able to reclaim equipment from redundant buildings and export them to Mexico and Russia at a large profit.
Mr Hurst said: “Those who consigned their goods to him did so because they trusted him because he was running what looked like a smart shop on the High Street.”
Mr Hurst said that almost £66,000 of antiques given to Porter to sell were recovered but a further £60,000 worth of items were not recovered.
The Broad Street antiques shut down without any warning in August 2013 and Porter disappeared for over a month before police traced him to North Yorkshire.
Porter, 57, of Eskdale Avenue, Corby, admitted a charge of fraudulent trading relating to Stuart Porter Antiques Ltd during the period between January 1 and September 13, 2013.
He also admitted five further charges of fraud involving on dates between January 1, 2011 and May 31, 2013.
Porter’s former partner Maxine Norris, 54, of Bourne Street, Netherfield, Nottingham, and her daughter Sophie Norris, 22, of Annandale Road, Hull, each denied charges of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to steal between January 1 and September 13, 2013.
No evidence was offered against them and they were formally cleared.
Judge John Pini QC, passing sentence, told him: “You are a plausible and engaging conman. You have brought about very widespread distress to a great many people.”
Lee Masters, defending, said that Porter had problems in the past with alcohol as well as various personal difficulties.
He told the court that since his arrest Porter had obtained a job working for an electrical engineering company.
Mr Masters said that Porter was in a relationship with Maxine Norris at the time of the offences but they have since split up.