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His sentence was handed down at Lincoln Crown Court today after a long-running probe into his Lincolnshire antiques business.

Porter, 57, who lives in Corby in Northamptonshire, was charged with fraud relating to his actions between January 2011 and September 2013.

He appeared in court earlier this year and admitted to fraudulent trading by his company Stuart Porter Ltd, and a further five charges involving cash sums of £83,000.

Previously Porter and his co-defendants were charged with carrying on a business to defraud creditors and conspiring with others to steal. They had denied conspiracy to steal furniture, jewellery, ceramics and antiques.

The prosecution did not pursue the cases against the other defendants.

When Lincolnshire Police began the investigation into Porter three years ago they made an appeal to other antiques dealers to come forward with any information on his business.

It is thought he used an acquaintance with the chef Marco Pierre White to lure clients to his shop. When Porter suddenly closed his Stamford shop he was tracked down by police in the North Yorkshire town of Yarm where he had started a new business called “Lovejoy Antiques”.

The case included 67 cases of theft. Almost £60,000 worth of antiques that had been taken from customers at his Stamford store were eventually recovered and returned to their owners.

At the trial Judge John Pini QC, passing sentence, told him: “You are a plausible and engaging conman.

“You have brought about very widespread distress to a great many people."

PC Ian Freeman, described the case as a "complicated and serious fraud investigation". He said: "The deceitful nature of Mr Porter’s activities have had a significant impact on victims and the local community so we hope the robust sentence imposed by the court has helped people to gain closure and reassurance.”

Porter was first convicted of dishonesty back in 1974 and was also sentenced to jail in the 1980s and 1990s.