Northern Ireland

Property fraud businessman Eric Boyd jailed

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Media captionEric Boyd admitted defrauding 17 people and was sentenced to two years in prison and two on licence for fraud

A County Fermanagh businessman has been sentenced to two years in prison and two on licence for fraud.

Eric Boyd, 45, of Crievehill Road, Fivemiletown, admitted defrauding 17 people of £480,000 for foreign properties that were never built.

A prosecution lawyer told the court Boyd had only changed his plea to guilty as a trial was about to begin.

He said that there was no evidence that the money he had taken from clients had ever been invested.

A barrister for Boyd said his client had only begun to defraud people when his previously successful business was adversely affected by the economic downturn.

Sentencing Boyd, the judge drew on the fact that one of the businesses he used to defraud people was Dream Spanish Properties.

She said: "It would be facile to say that the dreams turned into nightmares."

Image caption William McElwaine said Boyd's sentence was a "slap on the wrist"

She said that Boyd's victims "were not faceless" and that he had used his "working capital" as a salesman and the good reputation built up by his family to target people that he knew through church, hobbies, even people he had talked to in school.

Many of those who lost money through the fraud were angry at the sentence.

Ken Loughrin, who is owed £200,000, described it as "very lenient".

"I thought today, Eric Boyd would have come up with something at this stage, at this very late stage when he was facing a prison sentence," he said.

"But, unfortunately, he hasn't come up with anything, so I just don't know what the future holds."

William McElwaine said Boyd's sentence was a "slap on the wrist" and said Boyd was somebody he "would have trusted".

He said his daughter had also lost money, that would have been used for her wedding.

"He was a very religious man. It breaks your trust, it breaks your faith in people who are religious," he said.

"Can you trust somebody who would sit down and say a prayer with you, sing a hymn with you, can you trust them anymore?"

Ken Hamilton, who knew Boyd for more than 20 years, said he lost £10,000 through the fraud.

"I wouldn't glory in anyone being sent to prison but when you do the crime you have to do the time and I feel the sentence was quite short. We're left without our money and nothing only promises and a lot of lies.

"He took it under false pretences and told a lot of lies."