'I've had to go back to work' - Irish 'barrister' steals terminally-ill woman's life savings of €100,000
A terminally-ill woman has said she was forced to return to work after an Irish fraudster stole her €100,000 savings.
Sandra Burch (51) said she was terrified her cancer would spread because of the stress she was under when she was conned by Cork native Michael Cremin.
After she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, Ms Burch approached Cremin - who was posing as a barrister - about investing in a property deal, which she thought would make her more financially comfortable in the 18 months that she was expected to live.
Bristol Crown Court heard that Cremin spent the money on at least 14 cars, including a Volkswagen Scirocco worth £29,000 (€31,500).
Cremin (41) was found guilty on Tuesday of six counts of fraud and one of pretending to be a barrister.
Ms Burch, who lives in Salisbury, Wiltshire, spoke outside of court about the toll the case had taken on her.
The Guardian reports that she said: "The money was my pension pot and little bit of money my partner had saved. At the time I’d been given 18 months, which are the statistics for secondary breast cancer.
“I left work so my salary went down to nothing – just a pension, which was enough to buy food and what have you.
“I was hoping the investment would give me an income and when I faced chemo I could stay home. I’ve now gone back to work three days a week.
“Every time I had a CT scan I was worried the cancer had grown because of the stress this person had put me through.”
Ms Burch said that Cremin has made her wary about trusting others.
She said: “I’ve always believed in trusting people. This person came across as a professional. He made me feel he was there helping me.
“It was devastating. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about it.”
Judge Michael Longman told the court about the depths Cremin "was prepared to sink" to.
He said: “You have been convicted of six counts of fraud and one count of pretending to be a barrister by the jury, who saw through the lies you told in the days you were giving evidence
“During all the offending, you portrayed yourself as a person of more substance than you are, falsely claiming to have law degrees and a doctorate.”
He added: “Your depiction in your evidence of Mrs Burch having been the author of her own misfortune is an illustration of the depths you were prepared to sink in order to save your own skin.”
Detective Sergeant Dave Fryatt, of Gloucestershire Police, commended Ms Burch for her bravery in speaking out.
He said: “Cremin was recommended and it made sense to her to use him, especially after she checked him out online, where he advertised himself as a lawyer and advocate.
“Anyone could have made the same mistake as Sandra.
“She was incredibly brave in coming forward as Cremin even threatened to take legal action against her for defamation when she challenged him.
“Cremin was a fantasist and vindictive when challenged.”