‘Where is the money?’: Only nominal damages awarded at Aylesbury fraudster’s confiscation hearing

Graham Thorne
Graham Thorne

On Friday November 17, Graham Thorne appeared at a confiscation hearing where only nominal damages were awarded after it was revealed that he had no funds left to his name.

Graham Thorne was sentenced to 22 months in prison for defrauding vulnerable homeowners of what’s believed to be in excess of half a million pounds for building work.

Thorne fleeced trusting homeowners by promising to carry out building work that was either half completed, or wasn’t even started.

He left householders out of pocket to an estimated tune of half a million pounds.

The question that now remains is what has happened to this money?

Previously, the court had heard that Thorne had been a director of the Lavelle Building Co, along with his brother John David Thorne; which went into liquidation in 2015.

Despite this, the conman continued to funnel money from vulnerable clients.

Thorne refused to appear, in order to delay the sentencing but Judge Sheridan who was visibly angry, said: “These people have been fleeced, they want to know where they stand!”

“We will sit today.”

The hearing, due to begin at 9:30 in the morning – was delayed nearly two and a half hours as Thorne was summoned from Springhill Prison.

Judge Sheridan, presiding said in his summary remarks: “If the investigators find other money, we will come back.”

“I find this figure derisory, I have not seen any proper accounts as to where the money has gone.

“I can only rule on the evidence shown to me.

“If the law permits the prosecution to come back if they find any other assets – the money must be out there somewhere.

“I’m sorry to the public gallery, but that’s all I can do.”

An anonymous source who fell victim to Mr Thorne’s fraud said: “Graham Thorne would ask for huge deposits upfront with the excuse of so called materials shortages often used to justify this.

“He would say it was in order to secure materials as early as possible to avoid price rises due to certain materials such as certain types of bricks becoming scarce and ‘racketeering’ occuring due to these shortages.

“In some cases work would start, for a day or two, and he would disappear for several months again blaming delays on other jobs, family issues etc etc.

“Jobs were dragged out for months, further ‘instalments’ asked for whenever work re-commenced, then the same scenario would happen again.

“This has happened across a number of jobs.

“In other cases, deposits were taken and no work carried out at all.

“Graham Thorne has been taken through the civil courts by a number of customers and owes a huge amount of money to his victims.

“This includes several pensioners who have been defrauded of their life savings.

“They should not be dealing with this at their time of life - they should be enjoying their retirement without all this worry.

“Unfortunately several victims will not be eligible for any compensation under the Proceeds of Crime Act even if any assets were found as Trading Standards who brought the case to court accepted a bidding plea which means Graham Thorne was charged only with the fraud related charges where money was taken but no work carried out.

“The cases where customers had paid vast sums for work that was started and abandoned shortly after, are currently not eligible for compensation under the Proceeds of Crime act but may be the subject of a future court case.

“There are several other victims too with county court judgments against him who have not seen any money at all.”

At sentencing the judge stated that more than £100,000 is owed.

He continued: “We know that the money owed to victims through civil proceedings is around £180,000 from the unpaid county court judgments that we are aware of - the big question is, where has all this money gone?”

Noel Brown, county council cabinet member for community engagement and public health said the Trading Standards team had brought the confiscation case against Mr Thorne under Proceeds of Crime legislation.

He said: “This law intends that criminals can’t benefit from their crimes.

“While the judge’s order was for a nominal amount, if Mr Thorne comes into money at a later date, we can ask the court to revisit the confiscation.”