A BANKRUPT Suffolk antiques dealer who went on the run to Bulgaria after swindling creditors in a £1.9m fraud has been jailed for ten years.
Barry Spearing, who ran the once-thriving Wrentham Antiques,
near Southwold, before it mysteriously closed six years ago tried
to hide antiques worth up to £750,000 in a Lowestoft warehouse
after telling a customs officer that he had got rid of the stock, a
When a local dealer who was owed £350,000 by Spearing tracked
down the antiques, the warehouse was quickly cleared after Spearing
got wind of the fact that the authorities were on to him.
Spearing, 48, also sold half a dozen properties below their
market value and carried out a £200,000 fraud on his bank, Ipswich
Crown Court was told.
In January 2006 Spearing, of Green Drive, Lowestoft, was found
guilty in his absence by a jury of ten offences relating to a £1.9m
fraud dating back to 2002. The offences, which Spearing denied,
included three charges of false representation on land
registration, four offences of using false instruments and making
gift or transfer of property on company property before
Following his conviction, he was ordered to pay a £1,873,870
confiscation order or face seven years in prison.
After three years on the run in Bulgaria, the authorities
finally caught up with Spearing and he was extradited back to the
UK earlier this year and held in custody to await sentence.
On April 1, Judge David Goodin jailed Spearing for
three-and-a-half years for the fraud. He directed that the
seven-year sentence for failing to pay the confiscation order would
be served consecutively.
Sentencing him he said: "These offences represent a careful,
calculated, considered attempt to cheat creditors out of
considerable sums of money."
During Spearing's trial, the court heard that he had owned
Wrentham Antiques, near Southwold, which had a turnover of more
than £1m. However, in November 2002 he was declared bankrupt with
total liabilities of more than £2m.
The prosecution claimed that Spearing tried to manipulate his
assets as he approached bankruptcy so creditors would not get as
much money from him.
"In anticipation of bankruptcy, he rearranged his assets to his
best advantage and those close to him to the detriment of creditors
who were left with nothing," said James Pavry, prosecuting.
"He deprived his estate of £400,000 which in bankruptcy could
have gone to his unsecured creditors," said Mr Pavry.
He also claimed that Spearing had sold antiques worth up to £1m to
another party for £100,000.
He had also dishonestly used blank cheques given to him by a
Canadian business acquaintance to pay £327,000 into his bank. He
had then used accounts belonging to relatives to launder the money
which resulted in a £200,000 loss to his bank.
Stephen Spence, acting for Spearing, said his client had fled to
Bulgaria after receiving threats. "The police felt the threats were
serious enough to install panic alarms," he said.
He said that while in Bulgaria Spearing had "kept his head down"
and had obtained work. He said there was no evidence of him having
a "fancy" lifestyle.
He said Spearing's business had been a victim of its own success
which had led to it expanding too quickly.
He said Spearing had been good at buying and selling antiques
but had experienced cash-flow problems.