A FORMER Scarborough businessman has been convicted of two charges of fraud.
Andrew Sizer, 47, took advantage of being a freemason to persuade a fellow member of his lodge to “invest” £10,000, a jury was told.
In fact, the former mortgage broker used the money for his own living and business expenses to maintain his standard of living during the financial downturn.
Sizer, of North Marine Road, had denied the charges at York Crown Court, insisting that the victim’s money purchased two-thirds of his existing share in a Bulgarian property scheme, which he held for him in trust.
But he was unanimously found guilty yesterday by the jury following a four-day trial and will now appear in the new year for sentencing.
However, the Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, told Sizer that he wouldn’t be facing an immediate custodial sentence.
The judge said that he did, however, require financial investigations to be made and a pre-sentence report to be prepared.
He added that he needed the information to consider if a compensation order in favour of the victim, James Morrisson, was something which was available for the court to make. After taking Mr Morrison’s money in early-2008, Sizer, said by prosecutor Chris Smith in his closing speech to the jury to have proved himself to be a “liar”, wrote out a “sham” document to his victim.
The document falsely stated that five investors had paid £10,000 each to join a scheme and that some shares belonging to Mr Morrisson had been sold at a profit.
This, the court heard, was done in an attempt to appease Mr Morrisson, who wanted his money back, and give Sizer more time to attempt to get together the £10,000 to repay Mr Morrisson.
In his closing speech, defence barrister Chris Moran said that Sizer had perhaps been “the author of his own misfortunes” in creating a totally made up document, something which his client was now deeply ashamed of.
Sizer, a former manager with Scarborough Building Society, and Mr Morrisson, a retired Plaxton coach builder, were both freemasons at Leopold Lodge in Scarborough.
Giving evidence, Mr Morrison said he “hadn’t a clue” what his money was to be invested in but that he had trusted Sizer as he was a fellow freemason.
“I’m not a businessman, but I was told other businessmen were going to invest,” Mr Morrisson told the trial. “It wasn’t going to be a long-term investment. When it’s one of your friends you have to trust them.”
Sizer told the jury he had lost his business, his home, his offices and separated from his wife as a result of the criminal case.
The jury heard from several character witnesses, including Scarborough Council’s licensing officer and bailiff Alan Fane, who said he found Sizer to be “an honest person” who did “first class work”.
Sizer was granted bail until his sentencing hearing, set for Thursday January 5 next year.
The defendant is no relation to Andrew Sizer of Sizer Jewellers in Scarborough.