THE WIFE of a Scarborough freemason accused of defrauding a fellow lodge member out of £10,000 told a jury how the allegations had a “horrendous” effect on their lives.
Carol Sizer told York Crown Court how as a result of the police investigation and surrounding publicity, new trade for their independent mortgage brokerage business in Victoria Road had dried up, leading to them finding themselves out of work.
Mrs Sizer, who is now separated from her husband, Andrew Sizer, told the jury that stress had been awful and they had been “put through hell”.
Her husband denies two charges of fraud relating to an alleged investment in a Bulgarian land syndicate.
Sizer, of North Marine Road, is alleged to have taken James Morrisson’s £10,000 in 2008 and used it to prop up his own lifestyle which had been hit by the recession.
He is further alleged to have produced a “sham” document showing false figures to support a payment of £1,385 to the retired Plaxton coach builder.
It is alleged the payment was to appease Mr Morrisson after he began demanding his money back in 2010, having no record of where the money had gone, or what it was allegedly being invested in.
Sizer, a former manager with the Scarborough Building Society, has told the jury that he had been approached by Mr Morrisson at the Leopold Freemason’s Lodge about investing the £10,000 and had used it to buy out two thirds of his own share of the Bulgarian scheme.
The jury has been told that Mr Morrisson was allegedly told, by both Sizer and his wife, what was happening with his money and that it was a long-term arrangement.
Sizer told the jury that Mr Morrisson was “broad brush”, did not want any paperwork and had said that he trusted him to invest his money.
Mrs Sizer told the court that when Mr Morrisson began regularly turning up at their offices demanding his money back because he had changed his mind, they had eventually agreed to pay him some money as a “goodwill gesture”, although she knew nothing about the document which her husband also produced along with the cash.
She added that the Bulgarian syndicate was still in existence with other shareholders still content to wait until the recession was over and their investment would realize a good profit.
The jury also heard from Stephen Edwards, one of the investors in the scheme who said that he only had a part share and was not named on any documents.
He said that this was to prevent extra costs in registering him with the Bulgarian authorities, but that he was confident that he would get his money back with profits.
“It’s basically on trust”, he said.
The jury also heard from several character witnesses, including Scarborough Council’s Licencing Officer and bailiff, Alan Fane, who said that he had found Sizer to be “an honest person” who did “first class work”.
The jury are expected to retire to consider their verdicts today.