Fraudster tricked priest out of £17,000 life savings

Neil Collier-Sharp
Neil Collier-Sharp

A fraudster who tricked a church minister out of his life savings has been jailed for three years.

Neil Collier-Sharp befriended the Roman Catholic priest before involving him in a series of bogus property transactions, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Collier-Sharp took more cash from his victim on the pretext of setting up a charity.

“The friendship was formed in the summer of 2013,” said Martin Towers, prosecuting. “The defendant told the victim he was a wealthy man with property interests in Hartlepool.

“The victim was hoping to move to a bungalow to be better able to look after his elderly parents who had difficulty climbing stairs.

“Collier-Sharp said he could arrange a ‘deed swap’ which would enable the move to the bungalow.”

The court heard Collier-Sharp took £3,500 from his victim for ‘essential repairs’ to the bungalow.

“The offence was repeated twice more for other properties, the victim paying more than £7,000 for repairs,” said Mr Towers.

“At around this time, Collier-Sharp also proposed setting up a charity. He took more than £9,000 from the victim on the pretext of start-up costs for the charity, and for computer equipment for its offices.

“In addition, Collier-Sharp took out two personal loans totalling £15,000, one in the name of his victim, and one using his name as a guarantor. The cash loss to the victim totals £17,320, and he has been chased for loan repayments.”

Mr Towers told the court the victim went to the police in January 2014 after he became tired of the various excuses made by Collier-Sharp for what he had done with the money he’d been given.

Collier-Sharp, 53, of Fewston Close, Hartlepool, admitted eight charges of fraud by false representation between 2013 and 2014.

The court heard he was of previous good character, and he has no assets to pay compensation.

Chris Morrison, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Collier-Sharp wishes to apologise and accept responsibility.

“There was a single victim, and Mr Collier-Sharp has been assessed as being a low risk of re-offending.”

Judge Howard Crowson said: “This offending had a serious impact on the victim, both financially and on his attitude to society.

“He was a trusting, compassionate man who has been financially crippled, and is now inclined to be less open and trusting of others.”