Conned divorcee suing ‘silver-tongued’ fraudster who faked cancer battle to diddle her out of £400k
Sacher Barker, 47, fell for Richard Winter seven years ago following her divorce, the High Court heard.
She says he bragged about his “fabulous wealth”, spinning tales that he owned a valuable wine collection, a villa in Majorca, and that he had sold a business for £5million.
Mr Winter, 42, also claimed to own a lucrative real estate portfolio and to be the beneficiary of two trusts, Mrs Barker’s barrister, Justin Higo, told the court.
“Ms Barker trusted and loved Mr Winter and believed his promises,” he added.
“He promised marriage, and he claimed his family had turned against him. He even falsely claimed in August 2012 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.”
But his tales of riches were all a fantasy and Ms Barker ploughed her £400,000 savings into funding their high-rolling lifestyle, after he complained of a “temporary cash flow issue,” said Mr Higo.
He told her he would not only repay her in full, but also help her buy a house in Wimbledon which she had been planning to purchase when they met, he claimed.
“Ms Barker was persuaded by Mr Winter to postpone that investment on the promise that Mr Winter himself would provide her with the money to buy a similar property outright on payment of his next dividend.
“At the same time as boasting of his fabulous wealth, Mr Winter represented that he had a temporary cash flow issue, arising as a consequence of his assets being frozen in the context of his impending divorce from his wife," he added.
He continued: “He then made a series of deceitful representations in order to procure that Ms Barker made all her capital available to fund the extravagant lifestyle that he had represented, and Ms Barker believed, he was capable of affording.”
Between July 2012 and late 2014, Ms Barker spent £400,000 “in reliance on his repeated representations”, said the barrister.
“She sold her car to raise funds, she pawned various items of jewellery that she owned, or had been given by him, and incurred debts that she would otherwise not have incurred.”
Ms Barker says she was only finally confronted with the truth when her lover went out for a coffee in February 2015 never to return, leaving her to pick up the pieces and resolve matters with the landlord of their shared West Wittering flat.
She is now suing Mr Winter for deceit, seeking over £600,000 to “put her back where she was” before she met him, and said she would have used her savings to buy a £330,000 home that would since have spiralled in value.
Instead, she was left without any savings and is now struggling to “rebuild her life”, said Mr Higo.
“I was in a position where I trusted someone and now I have nothing,” she told Judge Brian Rawlings.
“I got involved with a conman. We had an agreement, but he welshed on it,” she added.
It is now Judge Rawlings' task to a assess the “damage Ms Barker claims to have suffered” due to her lover’s alleged lies.
She wants compensation for the cash she splashed during the relationship, loss of profit on the thwarted property deal and for the "distress" she endured.
Ms Barker says she would have kept a far tighter hold on her purse strings had she known Mr Winter was no millionaire.
But he insisted in a witness statement that “he spent significantly more than she has lost in funding the lavish lifestyle they enjoyed”.
Ms Barker, he claimed, “did extremely well out of me while I had money to spend”.
Their finances had been "intermingled" during the relationship and he asserted that, had he been given the credit due to him, "she would in fact owe me money."
But Mr Higo said Mr Winter had not put in a formal defence to the claim and, in July last year, Ms Barker secured a “summary judgment on her claims in deceit” against him.
He added: “Mr Winter’s approach simply misses the point that she would not have allowed her money to be spent at all if he had not deceived her into believing that her capital was not at risk – and that he could fund the lavish lifestyle…"
Judge Rawlings reserved his decision on Ms Barker's claim and will give his ruling at a later date.
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