A FRAUDSTER fleeced his girlfriends of tens of thousands of pounds, a court heard three years ago.

Simon Wilkinson used his married lover as a ‘cash cow’ and threatened suicide if she did not come back.

He was jailed for three years after he admitted five frauds and three thefts when he appeared before Recorder Timothy Raggatt at Worcester Crown Court in 2017.

Wilkinson, 50 at the time and of no fixed abode, committed a £60,000 fraud against the first victim after he failed to repay a series of loans between November 1, 2014 and October 1, 2016.

She met him on a cruise in November 2014 and they began a relationship, leaving her husband for him. Wilkinson persuaded her to buy him a Rolex watch for £5,000 and promised to pay her back but she never saw the money, the court heard.

He moved to Portugal with her, setting up a poolside sun cream selling business.

Wilkinson claimed he had opened a bank account that he transferred money into it, but the card rarely worked and he made regular excuses for it.

Richard McConaghy, prosecuting, said Wilkinson claimed to have sold property in Spain for €350,000 and would buy them a new house with the proceeds, but never did.

Mr McConaghy added: “(The victim) became depressed and returned to her husband in the UK.

"The defendant emotionally blackmailed her to return to him, threatening suicide. The business in Portugal was now abandoned and they travelled to Spain, still living off (the victim's) credit card. She described herself as feeling like a cash cow at this point in time.”

Wilkinson claimed he had owned property in Spain, but he refused to show it to her.

Wilkinson used a debit card the victim believed she had lost in Spain to withdraw £500 from a cash machine in Derby. He later told her he had no access to the money in his Spanish bank account and needed money to pay solicitors to release the cash. She borrowed £20,000 from her sister to pay him.

He also stole a ring from another of his victims when he stayed with her between December 23 and December 28, 2012. The ring was later pawned.

Wilkinson also stole cash from another woman he met through internet dating in the summer of 2015. They had an argument at her house on January 8, 2016, and she walked out and left him there. When she returned he had taken two envelopes containing £900.

A fourth victim also met him via internet dating at the end of February and beginning of March 2016. To begin with he paid the hotel bills but soon asked her to pay, saying 'Tony or Rakesh' would pay her back. No cash was ever repaid. The sum was between £1,000 and £2,000.

He tried to return the money he owed the first victim by paying her a cheque for £91,000 from the fourth victim's bank account. The cheque bounced.

He stole a bank card from a fifth victim on March 31, 2016. The fraud itself against the woman, whom he met through internet dating, took place between March 31, 2016 and May 1, 2016 and involved more than £1,000.

He also committed a fraud against a sixth victim, with whom the defendant was never romantically involved, at Billing Aquadrome in Northampton.

She paid him a £300 holding fee and £14,330 for a caravan. However, he had already been sacked from his job selling caravans on April 17, 2012 and the caravan was not his to sell. He also tried to contact her again, offering to sell her another caravan for £9,250. Billing Aquadrome had to pay the bill.

Michael Aspinall, defending, said the £91,000 cheque which bounced was a 'vainglorious attempt to stave off the inevitable'.

He said there had been a degree of affection between Wilkinson and the first victim and said the frauds were lacking in sophistication.

But Recorder Timothy Raggatt said the offences were aggravated because they had been committed on bail and he was 'taking advantage of people who were gullible'.

He said the fraud against his first victim in particular had been sustained, that there had been significant planning and that he had been engaging in this fraudulent activity in a determined way. He said of the first victim: "The victim was vulnerable because of her misguided affection for you."

Wilkinson was sentenced to three years in prison - 12 months for the fraud involving the caravan and two years for the £60,000 fraud against the first victim.

For the remaining offences he imposed concurrent sentences ranging between two months and 12 months.