Man jailed for conning almost £500k from dying friend

Keith Cameron. Picture: Comp
Keith Cameron. Picture: Comp
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A fraudster who conned a terminally-ill friend and neighbour out of almost half a million pounds has been jailed for five years.

Sentencing 54-year old Keith Cameron at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC, who had told him after the jury returned their verdicts last month that in almost four decades in court he doubted he had ever seen conduct more dishonourable, or a meaner and more heartless crime of dishonesty, said: “I will not trouble you, or indeed myself, by repeating what I had occasion to say on your conviction”.

The jury of eight men and seven women took just half an hour to unanimously find Cameron of Russell Place in the city, guilty of obtaining £476,874 from Jonathan Speirs by fraud between October 1, 2009, and September 14, 2012. They also returned a unanimous guilty verdict on a charge under the Proceeds of Crime Act of being in possession of and using criminal property - the money he had obtained by the fraud.

Sheriff O’Grady imposed the five year sentence on the fraud charge and three years on the Proceeds of Crime charge, to run concurrently.

Cameron’s defence advocate, Mark Moir, told Sheriff O’Grady that his client had told the Social Worker that he deeply regretted what had happened to the Speirs family.

“The report treats that with some scepticism, he said.

He added: “While he (Cameron) maintains he did nothing wrong, he feels sorry about what happened to the Speirs family, who have lost a substantial sum of money”.

Mr Speirs, a world-famous lighting design architect, whose work included the Millennium Dome and Dubai’s Burrj Lhalifa, the world’s tallest building, died of stomach cancer in 2012 aged 54. The jury heard that Mr Speirs had been anxious to ensure the financial future of his wife, Elizabeth, and their two daughters.

Cameron, who had been a friend of Mr Speirs for years, persuaded him to invest in Chase Telecom Ltd, a company he said he had set up to obtain a lucrative contract to supply telecom services to companies.

Cameron told his friend that other investors had invested millions of pounds into the company and that he could expect to receive £2 million within two years.

Cameron sent out false documents to show the company was trading well and producing dividends.

To keep up the pretence, he sent Mr Speirs three payments totalling £75,935 as dividends, when it was, in fact, Mr Speirs own money.

He also conned Mr Speirs into paying £1595 and an administration fee of £269 to increase his share-holding in the non-existent company.

During the trial, Fiscal Depute, Gerard Drugan, described Cameron as “a Walter Mitty character” who had spent “astronomical amounts of money”.

His home in the upmarket Trinity area of the city was valued at over £1 million with a monthly mortgage of £4000, his children went to a fee-paying school, holidays were spent in luxury villas in Portugal, he bought cars for his wife and a daughter, he bought expensive Swiss watches and dined in the best restaurants.

After finishing school, one of his daughters went to the Fame Academy in New York and stayed in a flat near the Empire State Building.

As well as Mr Speirs’ money, Cameron borrowed cash from his parents, neighbours and finance companies, such as Wonga, to support his lavish lifestyle. He has been declared bankrupt.

Cameron’s crime has left 58-year old Mrs Speirs, who has recently received radiation treatment for breast cancer, and her daughters, in financial straights and she is being forced to sell the family home.