Started by Newshound, April 03, 2004, 08:02:46

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A CROOKED timeshare boss conned buyers out of thousands of pounds.

Eric Vickers blamed staff and others associated with his Time2Share company for the losses.

But at Stirling Sheriff Court on Wednesday he was found guilty of defrauding seven clients.

The court heard that the firm's position in Aberfoyle's main street attracted visitors staying at the luxury Forest Hills Hotel nearby.

Although Time2Share had no connection with Forest Hills, Vickers (56) was able to buy and sell second-hand timeshares in the complex. He advertised his company as "the timeshare resale people".

But the court heard that a succession of clients who handed over deposits to him in 1998 and 1999 never got their timeshares, their deeds or their money back.

The company closed and Vickers, formerly of Chalmerston Road, Stirling, fled to the Lake District.

Those ripped off ranged from professional people to a handyman and included a retired bank manager and even a property lawyer.

The only clients to have got their money refunded are said to have been a group from Bolton, who travelled from Lancashire to Aberfoyle, trashed Vickers' office and refused to leave until he paid them.

Vickers, who gave an address in Kendal, Cumbria, was accused of defrauding 18 clients out of nearly £17,300.

He pleaded not guilty, saying that if frauds were committed they were committed by others at the firm and not him.

He was found guilty after trial of defrauding seven clients out of a total of £4187 over 12 months in 1998 and 1999.

One of a string of victims who gave evidence, licensed conveyancer Bernadette Kearns (51) of Wigan, Lancashire, said she handed Vickers £1624 in cash for the purchase of a week at the Forest Hills complex after staying there in August 1999.

She said she and companion Christine Ashcroft had been bowled over by the beauty of the Trossachs.

She said: "The shop itself was very untidy, with papers everywhere, but he seemed a genuinely nice chap.

"He said he had a week for sale in an apartment at Forest Hills which belonged to a person who never used it and wanted to sell it for £2200.

"I offered £1000 and he said he'd have a word with the seller on the telephone. We went for a walk and when we came back Mr Vickers said the owner was prepared to sell for £1500 plus legal fees."

A week later she paid the money in full. Despite writing, phoning and e-mailing Vickers, she never got her deeds.

Eventually her friend Miss Ashcroft phoned Aberfoyle police, who told her the shop had closed and there had been a string of similar complaints.

Miss Kearns said: "I never got my timeshare or my money back."

Ian Angus, defending, said Vickers is now working for a Lake District coach company and had managed to raise £2750 to go towards a compensation order.

Sheriff Robert Younger told Vickers: "If you'd been convicted of all of these charges you'd almost certainly have gone to prison. This amount, I think I can just manage to keep you out."

The sheriff ordered him to do 200 hours of community service and £4187 compensation.

He added: "If you don't pay this money or do the community service, you'll find yourself back here and the only alternative will be putting you into prison."

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