A gambling fraudster who stole his father’s life savings of almost £390,000 has been jailed for three and a half years.
Peter Simmons, 27, scammed his 66-year-old father Peter Simmons Senior out of £388,000, forcing him out of retirement and back to work.
He pretended to be an investment banker called Paul Newman while acting as administrator for the family tree surgery business to steal his father’s money.
Simmons pawned gold rings that belonged to his late mother, who handled the company’s finances before she died.
He spent his father’s money on expensive watches and an £80,000 Range Rover, explaining the purchases as the results of gambling wins.
But his father found out he was being deceived when he went to the bank with his other children and was told no-one called Paul Newman worked there.
Simmons appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on Monday and was jailed for four counts of fraud.
Prosecutor Bridget Todd said Simmons had worked with his mother, Sharon, at the family's Greenway Forestry Ltd, based in Strood, Kent.
After his mother died in October 2014, Simmons took over the company's administration and banking, paying wages and VAT bills.
The court heard he invented a personal investment banker who he claimed had assisted his late mother.
Ms Todd said Mr Simmons Sr trusted his son and wasn't aware that Newman was a "fictitious character invented by the defendant”.
Simmons supplied his father with false Barclays bank statements to cover up his deception.
The court heard that Simmons made 597 bank transfers from his father's personal account – ranging from £10 to £4,000 - between between June 2015 and October 2018, totalling £303,000.
He also made 1,469 unauthorised bank transfers to online betting accounts from his father's personal account and during the same period made 207 payments from a business account.
Ms Todd said: “During this period the family were aware he was spending a large amount of money. He explained it by saying that he earned it through gambling.
"Mr Simmons Sr said his son was convincing and he believed he was receiving large sums through gambling, enabling him to buy high-value watches and even an £80,000 Range Rover in August 2018.”
The court heard the defendant’s brother, Johnnie-Boy Simmons, and sister, Christie-Lou Hydes, became suspicious that something was wrong.
They visited the bank with their father in December 2018 and learned Newman did not exist.
Mr Simmons Sr was contacted by a pawnbroker and realised eight items of jewellery had been taken from his safe.
The prosecutor said Barclays has since refunded Mr Simmons Sr £321,385.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Simmons Sr said: "My son and I have always been close and our relationship over the years has been amazing. I love him very much.
"Not only did I lose my entire savings but it has destroyed the brilliant relationship I had with my son and created a divide I am unsure will ever be resolved.
"Peter left me with nothing… and I was forced out of retirement and back to work.
"It all began at the time of my wife's passing and clearly I was vulnerable and trying to deal with unimaginable difficult situations.”
Ms Hydes said her father - who used to be a "larger than life character" - was now a "shadow of his former self.”
She said he felt "betrayed and alone" after his son’s deception.
Max Reeves, defending, said Simmons, of High Street, Manston, had been addicted to gambling and it had "spiralled out of control”.
He added: "He is now extremely remorseful."
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