A quick-talking conman who couldn’t stop lying has been jailed.
David Berwick, 24, who stayed in a series of hotels and bed and breakfasts in the Chorley and South Ribble area, has been branded a ‘dishonest rogue’ by a judge.
In one instance he moved rooms in his B&B after he complained the TV didn’t work...then stole the £700 set from his new room.
On another occasion, he also stole £1,500 of property from his former flat – including a fridge-freezer, three-piece suite and even the lightbulbs and smoke alarms.
A court heard the ‘compulsive liar’ also sold four cars after promising their owners he would repair them, stayed in a hotel without paying, and took £700 from two men looking for a new home.
He has now been jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to a ‘catalogue’ of offending including fraud, theft and obtaining goods by false representation before Preston Crown Court.
One of his victims, Janet Baxendale, the boss of the Bay Horse Inn, Babylon Lane, Heath Charnock, told how Berwick was ‘very believable’ and ‘took everyone in’.
It was November 2010 when Berwick stayed at the Bay Horse, where he quickly complained his TV was faulty. He was moved to a different room and given a brand new ‘still in the box’ TV.
Berwick wrote a cheque for £700 to pay for the accommodation but it bounced. He then ran up a bill of more than £200 - although some of that was paid back - before disappearing with the new TV.
Ms Baxendale said: “He was very believable. He said he was working in the area and he needed a room. He was very feasible in everything he said. “He said he was going away for the weekend and was supposed to come back the following week. I said before he left he would have to pay off all his food and other bills. He part-paid it before he left and then the next morning he did a runner.
“In one way it’s good to know we weren’t the only ones. It is good to know they actually caught him.”
His offences started in January 2009 when he became friends with Roy Atkinson, telling him he had got a job as a mechanic at Stagecoach , the court was told.
In October that year Berwick offered to service Mr Atkinson’s car, a Citroen Picasso, and turned up at the man’s home with a breakdown truck, saying the car needed to go to a garage.
Mr Atkinson paid £2,000 in cash in instalments to Berwick, who requested the money to buy parts.
Amanda Johnson, prosecuting, said: “The defendant kept updating Mr Atkinson, who believed him.” The car was due to be returned to him in December 2009, but there were a series of delays.
In January 2010, Mr Atkinson received a letter from the DVLA saying someone else was trying to register as the keeper of his car.
In fact, Berwick had sold the car to another man for £250.
It was the first of several offences for which he was eventually jailed by the judge, who branded him a ‘compulsive liar and a dishonest rogue’.
His first fraud by false representation offence happened when he met and befriended Eric Surtees and Brian Butland, who were living in the Brook House Hotel, Preston Road, Clayton-le-Woods.
He told the pair he could help them find better, longer-term accommodation, but said he needed cash up front. The pair paid him £700 and Berwick disappeared.
Berwick also pleaded guilty to five other fraud by misrepresentation offences involving people’s cars during 2010.
He promised owners of a Renault Clio Sport, a Vauxhall Corsa and a Citroen Berlingo that he could do the necessary repairs on them after befriending their owners and taking payment.
But each time, the owners became suspicious and eventually found Berwick had sold the cars to someone else.
James Hawks, defending, said Berwick had gone through some ‘emotionally difficult and traumatic events in his personal life last year’.Berwick pleaded guilty to two thefts, six counts of fraud by misrepresentation and one charge of obtaining goods by deception.
Judge Wright sentenced him to 18 months minus the 61 days he had already served in custody, saying: “It seems to me that what you have done is take advantage of people you befriended. They were vulnerable, they trusted you, you abused that trust by lying.”