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B&Bs tell of sympathy for fantastist who conned them
B&B owners fleeced by a fraudster who claimed to be friends with Prince Philip, Simon Cowell and Ed Milliband said they felt sorry for her after she was given a 24-month conditional discharge.
Wendy Joy Coleman, 52, of no fixed abode, was also ordered to pay £1,635, the combined sum she owes the four Wiltshire B&Bs, as well as £170 in court costs, when sentenced at North West Wiltshire Magistrates’ Court in Chippenham on Monday.
In September, Coleman was found guilty of four charges of fraud by false representation during May and August last year.
During her four night stay, at Anam Cara, in Woolley Orchard, Bradford on Avon, Coleman gave proprietor Dr Jenny Leonard £50 in cash, a cheque for £150, which she later cancelled, and her driving licence.
Dr Leonard, 56, who is a counselling psychologist, said: “I think the main thing as far as I am concerned is that she is made to pay the compensation back and that she can get a job to do this.
“If she can get any help that she needs, that would be a good thing too.”
Dr Leonard, who contacted the police after the cheque was cancelled, was accused during September’s hearing by Coleman of snatching her driving licence and putting it on eBay, something the fraudster claimed to have discussed with Labour Party Leader Ed Milliband.
Dr Leonard said: “It was quite an usual thing for her to come out with.
“She was either making excuses and reasons as a way of defending herself or she just believed this to be true.”
Nathan Cortilla, of The White Hart, in Bath Road, Melksham, was owed £555 after the self-employed mystery shopper, originally from Bristol, left a note when she ended her 25-day stay saying she’d pay the following week and leaving the address for Mr Cowell if that was a problem.
Mr Cortilla said: “I did think some of the stuff she was coming out with was quite amusing, but we all knew that what she was coming out with was untrue.
“In her defence, it was the address for Simon Cowell and obviously we could have got in touch, but we knew it was all rubbish.”
Coleman, who said during September’s hearing that she was planning to move into Windsor Castlehas to pay £210 to Sean and Victoria Hughes of King’s Stile Cottage in Atworth and £720 to the Riverside Inn, Bradford on Avon.
When Coleman left King’s Stile Cottage, she gave a cheque to the Hughes with an address for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – it later bounced.
Coleman was arrested on August 12, 2011 at the Riverside Inn, still owing the owners £720.