'Fantasist' facing jail for conning terminal cancer sufferer out of life savings

A "fantasist" who posed as a barrister to trick a terminal cancer sufferer out of her life savings is facing prison.

Michael Cremin conned Sandra Burch out of £92,000 in a fraudulent property deal to buy himself a £29,000 Volkswagen Scirocco.

Ms Burch, 51, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, quit her job when she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and was relying on her pension when she fell victim to the fraudster.

She was forced to return to work part-time after Cremin took her life savings.

He carried out other frauds to buy at least 14 cars which Gloucestershire Police believe totalled more £330,000.

The 41-year-old, who advertised himself as a lawyer and advocate but has been described by police as a fantasist, was listed on a legitimate chambers website and falsely claimed to have a law degree from the University of London.

While he worked on several cases as a legal representative, he had no legal qualifications and had a history of using his knowledge of the legal system to threaten others or to distract people from his wrongdoing.

Cremin was also found guilty of making fraudulent representations to acquire finance for a range of vehicles including Toyota, Lexus and Volkswagen.

He impersonated a barrister in correspondence with several people, in one case writing to a couple in Ross-on-Wye in the name of a real barrister and falsely claiming they had breached planning regulations by erecting posts on a public bridleway.

He also provided false employment references to a letting agency in Cirencester when he was a tenant at a house in the town.

Cremin disputed the owners' right to inspect the property and forced them to take action at the county court and then the Court of Appeal before he was evicted.

It caused the elderly couple, who had invested in the house as part of their retirement plan, months of distress, health problems, lost rent and £20,000 in legal fees.

Cremin, of Buncombe Way, Cirencester, was found guilty of six counts of fraud and one of pretending to be a barrister following a trial at Bristol Crown Court. He will sentenced on Tuesday.

Detective Sergeant Dave Fryatt, of Gloucestershire Police, said: "Cremin was what you might call a paralegal - he wasn't a barrister or solicitor but had taught himself a lot about the law and was involved in the legal system.

"The problem is he over-egged his position and introduced letters after his name suggesting he was a doctor of law. He then never sought to correct anyone who believed he was a genuine solicitor or barrister.

"In Sandra's case she was trying to buy land from a family friend who had been declared bankrupt.

"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."

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