Irish man posing as barrister cons terminally ill woman out of her life savings

Michael Cremin, originally from Co Cork, used the money to buy a fleet of cars

 

A “fantasist” who posed as a barrister to trick a woman with terminal cancer out of her life savings has been jailed for eight years.

Michael Cremin, who is originally from Co Cork, conned Sandra Burch out of £92,000 (€99,700) in a property deal and also committed other frauds to buy a fleet of cars worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Cremin falsely claimed to have a law degree from the University of London and was listed on the website of a legitimate barristers’ chambers but in reality had no legal qualifications.

The 41-year-old, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, was found guilty of six counts of fraud and one of pretending to be a barrister at Bristol crown court.

Jailing Cremin, Judge Michael Longman said he had used “bluff and bluster” to defraud his victims.

“You have been convicted of six counts of fraud and one count of pretending to be a barrister by the jury, who saw through the lies you told in the days you were giving evidence,” he said.

“During all the offending, you portrayed yourself as a person of more substance than you are, falsely claiming to have law degrees and a doctorate.”

The judge added: “Your depiction in your evidence of Ms Burch having been the author of her own misfortune is an illustration of the depths you were prepared to sink in order to save your own skin.”

Michael Cremin, originally from Co Cork, conned Sandra Burch out of €99,700 in a property deal and also committed other frauds to buy a fleet of cars. Photo credit should read: Gloucestershire Police /PA
Michael Cremin, originally from Co Cork, conned Sandra Burch out of €99,700 in a property deal and also committed other frauds to buy a fleet of cars. Photo credit should read: Gloucestershire Police /PA

Ms Burch (51), from Salisbury, Wiltshire, sought legal advice from Cremin over a property deal that she hoped would make her more comfortable after being given 18 months to live.

Cremin gained Ms Burch’s confidence but kept the money she believed was going to be invested for himself and used some of it to buy a £29,000 car.

Bristol crown court was told Cremin carried out other frauds to buy at least 14 cars including a Lexus.

He made the lives of other victims a misery including an elderly couple he rented a house from.

He disputed their right to inspect the property and cost them £20,000 in legal fees when they took the case to the county and appeal courts.

Outside court Ms Burch said she had been devastated by what Cremin did to her.

She said: “The money was my pension pot and little bit of money my partner had saved. At the time I’d been given 18 months, which are the statistics for secondary breast cancer. I left work so my salary went down to nothing - just a pension, which was enough to buy food and what have you.

“I was hoping the investment would give me an income and when I faced chemo I could stay home. I’ve now gone back to work three days a week.

“Every time I had a CT scan I was worried the cancer had grown because of the stress this person had put me through.

“I’ve always believed in trusting people. This person came across as a professional. He made me feel he was there helping me. It was devastating. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about it.”

DS Dave Fryatt, of Gloucestershire police, praised Ms Burch for helping bring the fraudster to justice.

He said: “Cremin was recommended and it made sense to her to use him, especially after she checked him out online, where he advertised himself as a lawyer and advocate. Anyone could have made the same mistake as Sandra.

“She was incredibly brave in coming forward as Cremin even threatened to take legal action against her for defamation when she challenged him. Cremin was a fantasist and vindictive when challenged.”

Guardian