The Press

Swindler jailed after he left elderly uncle destitute

- Dean Calcott

A man conned an elderly relative into parting with money and then left the man destitute after a bank swindle and failed business venture, a court has been told.

Svend Olav Dunick Larsen, 24, was yesterday jailed for two years three months by Christchur­ch District Court Judge Colin Doherty for the fraud last year which left his elderly relative broke.

The judge said Larsen tried to transact fraudulent cheques paid into his 68-year-old relative’s account, repeatedly checking the status of the account through telephone banking.

On July 4 last year he found out two of the cheques had been cleared by error, and Larsen took his relative to the bank and got a bank cheque for $75,000 and $25,000 in cash.

Larsen also mortgaged his relative’s house for a business venture, but it failed and all the money he invested was lost.

His uncle, now reduced to extreme poverty at a time of life he ought to be living in comfort, had contemplat­ed taking his own life.

‘‘You told him many lies. He is now bankrupt, lost his home in a mortgagee sale, and he lives in a council flat.’’

In a letter to the court read aloud by the judge, the relative said he would never get over it.

‘‘I hope Svend knows he has made my life hell,’’ the letter said.

The judge said Larsen seemed to be living in a Walter Mitty-like fantasy he was some kind of business entreprene­ur, but he used his elderly relative in a ‘‘particular­ly nasty’’ way.

It was aggravatin­g that on September 29, on a day he was on bail and supposed to appear in the Invercargi­ll court, Larsen took a $550 taxi ride to Dunedin, paying with a valueless cheque.

He then tried to country.

Larsen

admitted

leave

charges

the

of obtaining by deception and theft by a person in a special relationsh­ip — the latter relating to a charity he ripped off while acting as a volunteer — and several counts of dishonestl­y using a document.

Lawyer Peter Dyhrberg said once the error by the bank was noticed by Larsen, it was a relatively opportunis­t withdrawal.

Larsen had led a sheltered life and appeared to have operated in a world of make-believe.

He wanted to pay reparation, and was remorseful.

Prosecutor Ruth Thomas noted Larsen’s relative got into debt through his actions to the point he had to declare bankruptcy.

The judge said there appeared to be little possibilit­y of full reparation, but he ordered Larsen to repay $11,839.

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