Love-struck OAP stole £160k from mis­tress to fund ‘as­pir­ing pop star’

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By David Wilkes

AN IN­FAT­U­ATED 78-year-old plun­dered £160,000 from his mis­tress to fund a fan­tasy af­fair with an ‘as­pir­ing pop star’ 50 years his ju­nior, a court heard.

Former Ro­tary Club pres­i­dent Peter Lawrence per­suaded Sheila Lo­sack, 80, to re-mort­gage her flat twice, and stole around 60 items of her jew­ellery worth £5,000 to £7,000 to pawn.

The re­tired sur­veyor took a fur­ther £63,000 from the prop­erty com­pany which man­aged Miss Lo­sack’s home.

All of the money was sent to Tia Me­hari, a Swedish girl he met in Lon­don when she was 19 af­ter she asked him for di­rec­tions, the court heard.

The pen­sioner in­vited her to join him for a cof­fee and she al­legedly re­vealed she had am­bi­tions to be a pop star un­der the stage name Ne­fer­titi, af­ter the an­cient Egyp­tian queen.

But Miss Me­hari, now 27, who lives in Gothen­burg, said yes­ter­day that she was only ever an as­pir­ing singer ‘in his mind’.

But Lawrence, who called her ‘Nefe’, be­came be­sot­ted. He sent her another £50,000 – his share of his former mar­i­tal home – and ‘bor­rowed’ another £10,000 from his sis­ter. Miss Me­hari said she had asked the pen­sioner to stop send­ing her money ‘but he then threat­ened to kill him­self’.

Lawrence was jailed for five years at Croy­don Crown Court and or­dered to pay £ 10,500 com­pen­sa­tion af­ter ad­mit­ting six counts of theft and six of fraud.

Re­tired civil ser­vant Miss Lo­sack has been left fi­nan­cially ru­ined.

But Lawrence, of Croy­don, South Lon­don, showed no emo­tion as he was sen­tenced. He main­tains he is still in love with Miss Me­hari, and con­tin­ues to send her £700 to £1,200 per month from his pri­vate pen­sion.

Out­side court be­fore sen­tenc­ing, he said of meet­ing Miss Me­hari: ‘ That mo­ment cer­tainly changed my life. She’s lovely. Have you ever been in love?’ The fa­ther of two had a 20-year re­la­tion­ship with Miss Lo­sack dur­ing his mar­riage, the court heard.

She owned flats in Croy­don and agreed he could move in while di­vorc­ing his wife be­cause of af­fairs he had.

But Claire Robinson, pros­e­cut­ing, said Miss Lo­sack found out he was hav­ing an af­fair with a woman in Swe­den and their re­la­tion­ship ended.

Yet he con­tin­ued to live in her spare bed­room rent- free, and on Miss Lo­sack’s rec­om­men­da­tion he be­came sec­re­tary of the prop­erty firm, giv­ing him full ac­cess to the bank ac­count. Miss Robinson added: ‘He asked her for money and for loans, and be­cause she felt sorry for him she agreed, but he never paid her back.’

Dur­ing an ill­ness he helped Miss Lo­sack with her fi­nances, set­ting up on­line bank ac­counts and learn­ing of her in­vest­ments and as­sets.

Miss Robinson said: ‘For the next four years [2009-2013] he sys­tem­at­i­cally helped him­self to money from those ac­counts and stole her jew­ellery and from res­i­dents of [the flats]. When she con­fronted him … Lawrence be­came an­gry and told her he needed the money and to “get over it”.’

He with­drew thou­sands of pounds from Miss Lo­sack’s store credit cards – and per­suaded her to re-mort­gage in sums of £57,000 and £25,000 to fund dec­o­rat­ing and re­pairs, but stole the lot. He also used her on­line bank­ing to trans­fer £59,000 to him­self. She re­ported him to po­lice in 2013.

Miss Robinson added: ‘She has found her­self vir­tu­ally bank­rupt...The stan­dard of liv­ing she worked all her life to achieve has been taken away.’

Miss Me­hari, born in Swe­den to Ethiopian im­mi­grants, said she be­lieved Lawrence was a ‘wealthy man, not a thief’, adding: ‘He be­came like a fa­ther-fig­ure to me. It was never about any­thing else on my be­half … He was ob­sessed in some ways.’

Fiona Dunk­ley, de­fend­ing Lawrence, said he had de­vel­oped an ‘in­fat­u­a­tion’ with ‘Nefe’ adding: ‘This was a fan­tasy re­la­tion­ship that was never con­sum­mated, but took over Mr Lawrence’s life and ra­tio­nal thought pro­cesses.’

A doc­tor said the ‘Nefe fan­tasy’ pro­tects Lawrence against the guilt of re­al­ity and pos­si­ble sui­cide at­tempts, the court heard.

Ob­ses­sion: Tia Me­hari, whom the pen­sioner knew as ‘Nefe’

Be­sot­ted: Peter Lawrence

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