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Fraudster 'barrister' jailed for nine-and-a-half years

Christopher Heayns, 34, has been jailed for nine-a-half-years following an investigation by Northumbria Police Credit: Northumbria Police

A Northumberland man described as a scheming and calculated fraudster has been jailed for nine-and-a-half years.

Christopher Heayns, 34, from Blyth, posed as a high-flying legal barrister and conned people and businesses out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mr Heayns was arrested on suspicion of fraud in August 2015 after being reported to police by his former girlfriend. She told detectives that she had met Heayns on a dating site in August 2013 and they started a relationship together.

He told her that his name was Christopher Smith and that he was a successful barrister with a property portfolio of around £6,000,000 and a number of investments and capital at his disposal.

He claimed to have multiple businesses and gave the impression he was a very wealthy man.

Early on in the relationship Heayns persuaded her to help him find somewhere to live in the area and got her to take out a tenancy agreement in her name at the Grade II listed manor building Sandoe Hall, in Hexham.

He managed to ensure that the £2,400 monthly payments were coming from her bank account and that it was all in her name.

Whilst living at the property he arranged to have building and renovation work done to allow him to set up new business ventures from home and racked up more than £100,000 in costs.

He persuaded his then girlfriend to cover the expenses, promising her that a £250,000 investment that was due to mature would allow him to pay her back.

The borrowing continued with him using the woman's credit cards to spend large amounts of money and also taking bank loans out in her name.

He even convinced the woman to borrow around £125,0000 from her parents to help him pay for different business ventures and his spending.

Suspicions about Heayns were aroused in December 2013 when one of the builders who was doing work at Sandoe Hall saw a Christmas card at the property addressed to Christopher Poulton.

When searching for that name on the internet the builder found a series of news articles from 2008 about a con-man who had been jailed for fraud offences. He flagged this up with Mr Heayns' partner and she confronted him about it.

Again he sold her a string of lies about his past and said that he had been accused of the offences by a rival barrister but cleared on appeal.

He stressed that he wouldn't be able to be working as a barrister now if he was a criminal and went to great lengths to convince the woman of this lie about being a barrister, even getting her to drop him off at various court locations across the country where he said he was working.

The couple eventually split in early 2014 and Heayns promised the woman he would repay all of the money owed.

However, after months and months of excuses about why he couldn't pay her back she reported him to police in May 2015.

An investigation was launched into Heayns and the more officers dug into his past, the more evidence of fraudulent behaviour, deceit and lying they found.

He was charged with 14 fraud related offences and remanded in custody in August 2015.

Heayns appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on February 8 where pleaded not guilty and, after a two week trial, was found guilty of four counts of fraud offences and seven counts of insolvency act offences.

He was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years prison on July 20.

Detective Constable Tony Hellyer, who led the investigation into Heayns, said:

Heayns is one of the most manipulative, scheming and dishonest people that I have ever investigated.

The nature, audacity and sheer scale of the lies he told and the stories he fabricated in order to extort money from people, companies and businesses is astounding.

People may question how people fell for his lies but I can't stress enough just how manipulative Heayns is.

He lied and cheated his way to enjoying a millionaires' lifestyle at the expense of others and has left a substantial trail of destruction behind him and a number of peoples' lives in tatters.

Heayns was summed up perfectly when the judge described him as being the most dishonest person that he had ever come across in 40 years of practising law.

– Detective Constable Tony Hellyer
BMW hire Car that Heayns was using and telling people it was his Credit: Northumbria Police