Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Keith Cameron jailed for conning terminally ill friend in Edinburgh

Keith Cameron Image copyright Ciaran Donnelly
Image caption Cameron was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court

An Edinburgh man who conned a terminally ill friend and neighbour out of almost £500,000 has been jailed for five years.

Keith Cameron, 54, was earlier found guilty of obtaining £476,874 from Jonathan Speirs by fraud between 1 October 2009 and 14 September 2012.

He was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Michael O'Grady said he had not seen a "more heartless crime of dishonesty".

Mr Speirs, a world-famous lighting design architect, whose work included the Millennium Dome and Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, died of stomach cancer in 2012 aged 54.

Proceeds of crime

The jury heard 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.

Sheriff O'Grady imposed the five-year sentence on the fraud charge and three years on a proceeds of crime charge, to run concurrently.

Cameron's defence advocate, Mark Moir, told Sheriff O'Grady his client had told a social worker he deeply regretted what had happened to the Speirs family.

Cameron told his friend other investors had invested millions of pounds in the company and he could expect to receive £2m 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 really it was Mr Speirs' own money.

Walter Mitty

He also conned Mr Speirs into paying £1,595 and an administration fee of £269 to increase his shareholding 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 more than £1m with a monthly mortgage of £4,000, 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 straits and she is being forced to sell the family home.

Det Insp Arron Clinkscales, of Police Scotland, said: "Keith Cameron used his expertise and relationship to make his victim believe that this was a legitimate investment.

"He also indicated that others had invested significant sums and forged investment documents. He was able to continue the pretence of a legitimate investment for nearly two years, with repeated promises of returns, until his victim died, leaving a grieving widow to discover the fraud."

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