Wallsend fraudster used dead wife's name for con

Robert Leslie Mitchell claimed his wife's dying wish was for him to invest in a business with her brother

Robert Leslie Mitchell
Robert Leslie Mitchell

A conman branded a menace to investors has struck again - this time swindling his own family.

Robert Leslie Mitchell claimed his wife’s dying wish was for him to invest in a business with her brother.

Convincing geneticist Dr David Manning the venture had been sister Yvonne’s last request, he managed to get him to hand over £9,000 for his postal courier firm based in Newcastle, but instead pocketed the cash.

Mitchell, 61, of Valeria Close, Wallsend, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

His deception is the third time in 25 years he has been before the courts for conning people.

Dr Manning, 54, originally from Gateshead but now living in Saudi Arabia, said: “It’s just incredibly sad. Why anyone would want to do this I find amazing. He was part of the family following my sister’s death. What has possessed him to do this?”

Dr Manning’s late sister Yvonne was married to Mitchell for a year when she died from cancer aged 50 in 2005.

After her death the pair stayed in touch and it was on a holiday Mitchell said how keen she had been for them to make an investment.

In 2008 Dr Manning handed over £4,000 to help him expand Fastway Couriers, and the following year he gave him a further £5,000.

Mitchell had sold the business days after his first investment but continued to spin a lie.

Twenty years ago the businessman was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court for admitting fleecing an elderly couple out of their life savings.

He appealed his three-and-a-half-year term, but Mr Justice Morland at the Royal Courts of Justice described him as “a menace to gullible and unsophisticated investors” and upheld his sentence.

This spell in prison came just four years after his first in 1990, in which he admitted 21 offences of obtaining £140,000 between 1987 and 1989.

At the time he was managing director of his own financial business based on Front Street in Whickham, Gateshead.

He was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court for 21 months for conning customers.

He was told by the judge his sole motivation was greed.

At the hearing at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, which Dr Manning had flown back to the UK to attend, Mitchell pleaded guilty to committing fraud by taking £4,000 between September 1, 2008, and November 1, 2008, and again for fraudulently taking the sum of £5,000 between January 31, 2009, and April 1, 2009. He will be sentenced later.

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