Camelot employee told friends about Lottery fraud, court told
A former Camelot employee who is said to have conspired with an alleged conman to fake a multimillion- pound-winning Lottery ticket told friends about the fraud before killing himself, a court heard.
Edward Putman, 54, is on trial for fraud by false representation at St Albans Crown Court after allegedly claiming an outstanding jackpot of £2.5 million with a counterfeit ticket in 2009.
He is said to have conspired with friend Giles Knibbs – who worked in the securities department at Lottery operator Camelot between 2004 and 2010 – to submit a damaged fake ticket to take the jackpot just before the 180-day limit to claim prizes was due to expire.
The court heard Mr Knibbs told friends he had “conned” the Lottery, and that he had done so with Putman.
John Coleyshaw said his friend Mr Knibbs told him about the plan in 2015.
Jurors have already heard Mr Knibbs felt aggrieved he did not receive his fair share of the prize from Putman, and confronted the defendant in June 2015.
Mr Knibbs was subsequently arrested for burglary, blackmail and criminal damage after Putman complained to police, and he killed himself in October that year.
Mr Coleyshaw told the court that on an evening in September 2015, Mr Knibbs told him it looked like he was “going down for 10 to 15 years for blackmail”.
The court has been told Mr Knibbs had been working late one night during his time at Camelot when he saw a document being printed which contained details of big wins which had not yet been claimed.
Mr Coleyshaw said it was correct when prosecutor James Keeley said that after Mr Knibbs told Putman about this, the two men – Putman and Mr Knibbs – had “agreed to run a scam”.
Mr Keeley said: “A scam where Eddie would collect one of the winning Lottery prizes and they would split the money between them.”
Mr Coleyshaw told jurors about receiving a phone call from Mr Knibbs in which he asked if he could drop off letters at his house.
When he got home that night, there was an envelope on the door mat containing a suicide note, the court heard.
Another friend, Andrew Sales, who had met Mr Knibbs while working at Camelot, also told jurors he had revealed the alleged fraud to him.
Mr Keeley brought up a phone call from January 2015 between Mr Knibbs and Mr Sales.
“He said to you he was in a really dark place,” the prosecutor said, adding: “He said that Eddie owes him money.”
Mr Sales replied: “He said that, yes.”
Mr Knibbs is said to have told Mr Sales that Putman was “rubbing his nose in it” by not paying him, and said he seemed to have “plenty of money”.
The court heard that in early October, Mr Knibbs confessed to Mr Sales about the Lottery ticket.
He told Mr Sales he had “gone in with Eddie and he had forged a Lottery ticket” and after forging the ticket Putman claimed a win of £2.5 million, jurors heard.
Speaking to Mr Sales, the prosecutor said: “Your belief was that it would be impossible to do such a thing.”
He replied: “That was my belief, yes.”
The court heard Mr Sales said to Mr Knibbs: “Don’t be stupid. You can’t forge a Lottery ticket.”
Mr Sales received an envelope from Mr Knibbs containing what the prosecutor described as a “goodbye letter”.
Jurors have already heard the “genuine” winning ticket, which was bought in Worcester, has never been discovered.
The court was told Mr Knibbs claimed Putman went to 29 different shops as the clock ticked down to claim the cash, each providing a different ticket, before the right number was found.
Mr Keeley said the defendant eventually submitted the correct code at a shop in High Wycombe on August 28, 2009.
The prosecutor said: “He was lying. He did not hold the winning ticket, but a forgery created by Mr Knibbs.
“The real winning ticket may still be out there, for the real winner has never been identified.”
Evidence suggested Mr Knibbs was paid an initial £280,000 from Putman for his part in the alleged ruse, followed by much smaller increments totalling £50,000, Mr Keeley said.
The police investigation was initially opened in 2015 after Mr Knibbs’s suicide, but closed when Camelot was unable to locate the alleged forgery.
The case was then reopened in 2017 when the ticket was eventually located by a Camelot employee.
Putman was first arrested for fraud in October 2015.
He initially answered “no comment”, but gave a prepared statement in September 2018 in which he said he was “a genuine winner”, Mr Keeley said.
Putman, a 54-year-old builder, of Station Road, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, denies fraud by false representation.
The trial is listed to last for two weeks.