‘Old-fashioned conman’ who targeted non-British shopkeepers and stole more than £5,000 from them sent to prison
PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:49 14 August 2018
An ‘old-fashioned conman’ who scammed vulnerable non-British shopkeepers out of more than £5,000 has been sent to prison.
Daniel Ashton, of Beaumont Close in Gidea Park was sentenced to 26 months in prison - half of which will be spent under license - at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday (August 10).
The court heard that Ashton, 40, went into 26 shops across London with a fake SIA (Security Industry Association) badge and receipt book and told owners that they needed to pay a licence fee to him in cash - for amounts of £150 up to £280.
This was not the first time that Ashton has been found guilty of committing fraud.
In May 2016 he was arrested and cautioned for an offence that was identical to the one that he appeared in court for last week.
He had been committing the same crime, targeting non-British shopkeepers - specifically eastern European shops - and asking them for a license fee in Essex and East Anglia.
In February this year, police became aware of identical scams being reported all over London.
In a police interview, the father-of-one admitted that on Friday, February 9, he targeted five shops in Southall - West London.
Two weeks later (Tuesday, February 21 and Thursday, February 23) he targeted premises in Romford, Upminster, Hornchurch and Dagenham.
And just days later he then obtained cash from businesses in south London and Bromley.
He then embarked on other scam sprees in Romford, Dagenham and Ilford across March.
Police then arrested him at his address in Brentwood where he was living with his identical twin brother.
At first his brother said that he committed the crimes - which was a plan according to Judge Recorder Paul Keleher QC - and in a police interview Ashton claimed that he had been his brother’s driver.
After further police investigations it came to light that his brother in fact had a broken arm at the time, and so didn’t match the description of the man who had been conning shopkeepers.
While released under police investigation - in June and July this year- Ashton proceeded to scam two more shops, and was arrested by police after he was spotted by officers in a bookmakers in possession of the fake ID and receipt book.
Calvin Jackson, in mitigation said that Ashton had racked up gambling debts of up to £25,000 - £30,000 - some of which was owned to family members - and that he had been committing the crimes to pay them back.
However there was no evidence to support these debts.
According to his defence Ashton had a gambling addiction that had been evident since he was a teen.
His father, Brian Ashton, 68, speaking as a character witness said that his son had had a gambling problem for more than 20 years, and that he had tried to seek support which wasn’t successful.
His partner, Kelly Goodwin, spoke in court and said that Ashton had been a loving stepdad to her three children, and that she had seen first hand what the gambling addiction had done to him.
She said it had been “devastating” and that she had seen him running across fields because he did not know how to deal with it.
Ashton had been given £12,000 from Miss Goodwin’s father, John Goodwin, who was told the money would be used to pay back debts.
The court heard that £3,000 of the money was used to buy a new car - which he then used to commit further crimes with.
Judge Keleher sentenced Ashton to prison for 26 months - 13 months to be spent under licence - and said that he showed a lack of remorse by continuing to commit fraud even after he had been arrested.
He said: “The extent of his offences were unbeknown to family members who came to support him in his hour of need.
“His father wasn’t even aware that he had committed these offences before.”
Judge Keleher said that although it is easy to claim remorse when up for sentencing, actually showing remorse was entirely different, and that he felt that Ashton had not done so.
He said that he had “pulled the wool over” the eyes of his family and his partner and her family, and that although his gambling addiction was evident, a custodial sentence was needed because of the targeted nature of his crimes.
Pc Oisin Daly, of Havering’s licensing police team, told the Recorder: “This conviction at least brings justice to the numerous victims of crime from this scam, some of whom have now gone out of business.
“We would always advise businesses to never pay cash to anyone pretending to be acting in an official capacity and if they have concerns to contact their local police or council at the time.”