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Norfolk conman facing jail after trying to trick banks

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:39 06 July 2010

Sarah Hall

A convicted Norfolk conman is facing prison after he pretended to be a super-rich Jersey resident to trick banks and businesses into giving him money.

Paul Self, 52, who owned expensive cars and a luxury boat, claimed he was a wealthy resident of Jersey with more than £250,000 in the bank after he dreamed up a scheme to create a floating hotel on the Channel island.

A convicted Norfolk conman is facing prison after he pretended to be a super-rich Jersey resident to trick banks and businesses into giving him money.

Paul Self, 52, who owned expensive cars and a luxury boat, claimed he was a wealthy resident of Jersey with more than £250,000 in the bank after he dreamed up a scheme to create a floating hotel on the Channel island.

But Self, formerly from Booton, near Reepham, was undone when he was arrested by the island's police and at his trial it emerged he was actually a conman from Norfolk with a criminal record after twice being convicted in East Anglia's crown courts.

Jersey's Royal Court heard he told a bank worker he was a rich resident on the island as he attempted to get money to pay for a cruise ship to use as a floating hotel in the island's harbour.

A jury of seven men and five women took less than an hour to reach unanimous guilty verdicts on six out of nine counts after a two-day trial.

Following the verdicts Advocate David Cadin revealed Self had a previous criminal record. He said that at Norwich Crown Court in 2002 Self received a nine-month suspended prison sentence for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

And he said that in 1997 at Ipswich Crown Court, Self was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence and disqualified as a company director for five years for 10 charges relating to theft involving a boat, furnishing false information and making forging equipment.

Those offences dated to 1992 when Self ran a Lowestoft business with his brother. At that time Sir Derek Spencer QC said Self had stayed out of trouble since the offences and had suffered a heart attack in 1993.

Sir Derek said Self was generally a hard working man with many good qualities who had learned his lesson and was unlikely to re-offend.

But Self ended up Jersey where his downfall followed a failed idea to develop a pub and dock a cruise ship as a floating hotel in the harbour.

The plug was pulled on the scheme but Self continued to con bank workers into giving his company, Octa Group, money for the plan.

Self falsely claimed he had over £270,000 in an account with BNP Paribas bank and created a false letter from the bank to get a £50,000 overdraft from Royal Bank of Scotland International for his harbour plan.

He also forged his ex-business partner's signature on two cheques worth £11,000 and £13,000 as well as forging invoices and another ex-partner's name to try and get a loan from Lombard Finance Limited for the harbour project.

But when arrested Self told police he had hardly any income and had not paid any tax since he arrived in Jersey.

The jury found him not guilty on three charges of obtaining money by false pretences after Commissioner Sir Philip Bailhache directed there was no case to answer.

Advocate Cadin told the court: “He systematically ignored the norms of normal behaviour. He constructed documents to pass them off as genuine with intent to deceive.”

Advocate Olaf Blakeley, for Self, successfully argued his client had no case to answer on three out of nine charges and there was no evidence his client forged any signatures.

“Never believe what you hear and only believe half what you see. No matter what you hear there is always one other possibility,” he had told the jury.

Self showed no emotion when found guilty of six charges which included forging a letter claiming he had £270,000 with BNP to get an overdraft from RBSI, forging his ex-business partner Bryan Williamson's signature on a cheque worth £11,000 and on a cheque worth £13,000, forging invoices to get a loan from Lombard Finance and forging a letter removing Mr Williamson's name from a bank account.

Self used to be company secretary of Norwich firm HomesellUK.Com and was also involved in running IBAS (Norwich) Ltd, both based in Rose Lane.

HomsellUK.Com Limited was dissolved in October 2006 and IBAS (Norwich) Ltd was dissolved in February last year.

Self will be sentenced on Friday, January 22.


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