Conman 'barrister' stole £1,700 from partner he met on dating website

Walsall | News | Published:

A conman posing as a junior barrister living miles from home used 'extravagant lies' to trick an unsuspecting man out of more than £1,000 after meeting on a gay dating website.

Joshua Bannister told Ryan Jones he was from Brighton, but lodging in the Black Country during his training.

The 22-year-old set up 'after work' meetings outside courthouses and pretended to write trial openings from the victim's laptop to back up his story during their short relationship. But in reality, Bannister was unemployed and living on benefits in a bed-sit in All Saints Road in Darlaston.

Only when the couple split did Mr Jones, 24, discover he had been duped out of £1,170 in two online money transfers from his account to Bannister's. A £270 necklace was also missing as well as £130 kept in a money tin belonging to his mother at their home in Coseley .

At Dudley Magistrates' Court yesterday, Bannister was found guilty of four counts of theft in his absence by magistrates after he failed to turn up for his trial. Chairman of the bench Mr Roger Innman issued a warrant for his arrest.

Mr Jones told the court: "I met Joshua and he started staying at my house a few times a week – he told me he was a junior barrister from Brighton. He took me to where he was staying and it was horrific and I said 'you can stay at mine'."He added: "But we started having difficulties, he became strange and then things which he said didn't seem to add up. He seemed to have a story and answer for everything."

After the three-month relationship ended last June, Mr Jones told the court he discovered £1,000 had been transferred from his savings account and £170 from his current account in two transactions to Bannister.

His mother also found £130 missing from a money tin, a necklace was gone and MrJones could not find some of his clothes.

Mrs Jo Tait, defending, said Bannister suffered mental health problems.

Following the case, Helen Whitehead, senior crown prosecutor at the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said Mr Jones may not have been Bannister's only target. She said:

"Joshua Bannister is a confidence trickster who used online dating sites to identify victims from the gay community from who he could steal."

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