Widow of dying man conned out of cash is given fraudster’s fortune

Elizabeth Speirs  and Jonathan Speirs

Elizabeth Speirs and Jonathan Speirs

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THE heartbroken widow of a dying man conned out of almost half a million pounds has insisted nothing could undo the damage done by the crime, as the fraudster was stripped of more than £200,000.

Jonathan Speirs, a world-famous lighting architect, was swindled out of a total of £476,864 by close friend and neighbour Keith Cameron.

Keith Cameron. Picture: Lesley Donald

Keith Cameron. Picture: Lesley Donald

Using a complicated ruse involving a fake telecoms company, Cameron, 55, persuaded terminally ill Mr Speirs – who died of stomach cancer in 2012 – to part with his money.

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Yesterday, the heartless businessman, previously of Russell Place, Trinity, was stripped of his entire estate in court. A total of £211,527.88 will now be paid back to Mr Speirs’ family.

The ruling comes after Cameron was last year jailed for five years, reduced to four on appeal. A judge slammed his crime as “wicked and cruel beyond the comprehension of any right-thinking person”.

Mr Speirs’ wife, Elizabeth, welcomed the latest judgement and said the family “very much appreciated” the work of the Crown Office and police in bringing Cameron to justice.

The 59-year-old teacher said: “It’s a great bonus for myself and my daughters to get anything back from this case.

“However, it’s still only a fraction of the money he took from us and what our supposed value in his company was.

“This will never undo the psychological damage and the ongoing financial impact of this crime. At my age, I’m struggling to find employment.”

Mr Speirs, who had known Cameron for 13 years, invested £476,864 in his friend’s fake start-up, Chase Telecom, and was even presented with false documents to create the illusion it was successfully trading.

The Speirs family also received “dividends” totalling £76,396 that Cameron paid to them using their own cash.

Inquiries at Companies House later established that Chase Telecom had never traded and Cameron had instead used the money he had taken to fund his own extravagant lifestyle.

At the time of the crime, Cameron had a mortgage of 
£1.34 million, took holidays in Portugal in a luxury villa, regularly frequented top restaurants and sent his two daughters to the fee-paying Mary Erskine School.

Despite his selfish act, it is understood the fraudster – who was yesterday dropped off at court by his wife – has now been moved to an open prison.

The Crown Office said Cameron could be stripped of more money in the future if he comes into further assets, in order to ensure he pays back “every penny he took”.

Lindsey Miller, procurator fiscal for organised crime and counter-terrorism, said: “Keith Cameron’s actions were cruel and selfish beyond words. This action under the Proceeds of Crime Act was about ensuring that as far as possible Cameron’s wrongs were righted. As such we have requested the court order that he be stripped of all his current assets, and that all money recovered from him be returned to Mr Speirs’ family.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com

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