A BUSINESSMAN defrauded a fellow freemason out of £10,000 to maintain his lifestyle in spite of the recession, a jury was told yesterday.
Scarborough mortgage broker Andrew Sizer, 47, repeatedly “fobbed off” James Morrisson, a retired Plaxton coach builder, after conning him out of the cash, prosecutor Chris Smith said on the first day of Sizer’s trial at York Crown Court.
However, giving evidence, Mr Morrisson repeatedly appeared confused and said he could not remember many details of his investment.
Opening the Crown’s case, Mr Smith said Sizer came to know Mr Morrisson as both were members of the Leopold Lodge of Freemasons in Scarborough.
He added: “James Morrisson was persuaded to join an investment plan and invested £10,000 with this defendant.
“He was guaranteed a healthy return which would mature in two years’ time and involved himself and four other investors.
“That was the understanding James Morrisson was under at the time.
“At around the time the scheme was expected to mature he approached the defendant and talked about the return of his money.
“The prosecution say that over the course of several meetings over several months Mr Morrisson was fobbed off by this defendant.”
Mr Smith claimed that Sizer then produced a “sham” document and £1,385 which he claimed was profit from the investment.
“The figures upon it were invented by this defendant dishonestly with the intention of giving himself more time while he tried to remedy the problems of his fraud,” Mr Smith added.
“The money had gone to support Andrew Sizer’s lifestyle, which perhaps because of the recession was proving difficult to maintain.”
After being arrested, Sizer told police that the money had been used to obtain two-thirds of a part-share of a Bulgarian property scheme, which Sizer already owned.
“The prosecution say this is an excuse for what happened to the £10,000,” Mr Smith added.
“There is no trace of the £10,000 investment into the Bulgarian property scheme or that it was even held in trust.”
Giving evidence, Mr Morrisson said he “hadn’t a clue” what his money was to be invested in but that he had trusted Sizer as he was a freemason.
“I’m not a businessman, but I was told other businessmen were going to invest,” he said. “It wasn’t going to be a long term investment. When it’s one of your friends you have to trust them.”
He added that he “took it as read” that the investment would last two years.
Chris Moran, defending, pointed out that Mr Morrisson had stated in a police statement that he had met Sizer in 1970, when he had in fact met him in 2003.
Mr Morrisson also described going to a bank to withdraw the £10,000, when in fact it had been transferred directly into Sizer’s account.
Mr Moran said to Mr Morrisson: “Your memory is hazy, would you agree? For a number of questions you do not know a lot of details.
“Some of the details in your witness statement are clearly wrong, aren’t they?
“You can’t explain why you made these mistakes.”
The trial continues.
The defendant is no relation to Andrew Sizer of Sizer Jewellers in Scarborough.