England

Mark Acklom: Conman jailed for £300,000 fraud

Mark Acklom Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption Mark Acklom was extradited to the UK from Switzerland earlier this year

A conman who duped his ex-girlfriend out of her life savings worth nearly £300,000 has been jailed.

Mark Acklom convinced Carolyn Woods to lend him money for renovation work at a string of properties he owned after he promised to marry her.

At Bristol Crown Court, 45-year-old Acklom, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to five fraud charges worth a combined £299,564.

He was jailed for five years and eight months.

The court heard Acklom deceived Ms Woods into thinking they were in a "committed relationship" and would get married, so that she would loan him money.

Ms Woods previously told the BBC that Acklom had "confided" in her that he was an MI6 agent during their year-long relationship in Bath in 2012.

But she said he vanished at the end of the year leaving her "with no money left".

'Deeply betrayed'

In a victim impact statement read to the court she said Acklom acted "deliberately, and in the most calculated, pre-meditated way" and she had "suffered total financial ruin".

Ms Woods said the man she fell in love with "never actually existed" and was simply "the fictitious creation of Mark Acklom".

"I have felt deeply betrayed and have suffered a loss of identity," she added.

Sentencing, Judge Martin Picton said: "No one listening to the victim's personal statement could fail to appreciate the harm your offending has brought about."

He said Acklom had taken advantage of Ms Woods in a "ruthless and selfish manner" and "did not care about the effect your criminal and self-serving actions would cause".

Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Mark Acklom duped Carolyn Woods into thinking they were in a "committed relationship", the court heard

In October 2016 Acklom was among 10 British fugitives named by the National Crime Agency (NCA) as the most wanted in Spain.

He was later seen in Geneva where he had been living under an assumed name.

Acklom was arrested at a luxury apartment in Zurich last summer and extradited back to the UK.

He originally faced 20 charges, but his barrister Gudrun Young asked for him to be re-arraigned after a jury had been sworn in for his trial.

Prosecutor Charles Thomas said the guilty pleas to five counts of fraud were acceptable to the Crown.

A proceeds of crime hearing will take place at a later date.

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