A conman who systemically plundered a widow’s treasured jewellery collection after posing as a multi-millionaire businessman to woo her on an internet dating site has been jailed for two years.
Michael Turner sold and pawned £20,000 of Philomena Golenya’s gold bracelets and earrings after spinning her a yarn that he owned a nightclub and was thinking of buying a brewery.
Turner, 53, a former project manager, was serving a suspended jail sentence for stealing and pawning his half sister’s £5,000 diamond ring, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.
He was convicted by a jury of stealing Miss Golenya’s jewellery after they met on dating site Plentyoffish.com and began a relationship.
Prosecutor Alun Jones said Miss Golenya, a sales representative who lives in Bingley, became suspicious of Turner when their six month relationship floundered.
He had found her jewellery at the back of her wardrobe and taken treasured items collected over 40 years. Some were gifts to Miss Golenya from her late husband who died in tragic circumstances, Mr Jones said.
Turner, of Park Square North, Leeds, was arrested when he arranged to meet Miss Golenya with promises to return the jewellery in March last year.
The police were waiting for Turner who gave officers a false name.
He had lied to Miss Golenya about his age and told her he had bought the Majestyk nightclub in Leeds for £5 million, when he was, in fact, claiming benefits.
Stolen items of her jewellery were sold to a shop in Leeds for £3,642 and other pieces were seized back from pawnbrokers, the court was told.
Turner had 16 previous convictions for 48 offences, many of dishonesty.
In April, 2010, he was sentenced to 50 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for stealing the diamond ring.
In mitigation Turner’s barrister, David Taylor, said he was a likeable man and “attractive to ladies”.
He did thousands of pounds of DIY work at Miss Golenya’s home after he began staying there and she gave him a key.
“It is a relationship that went wrong. It is so often the case with these internet sites,” Mr Taylor said.
Turner knew he was going to jail, Mr Taylor told the court, describing his client as “a sad figure. Not very happy at all”.
Jailing Turner Judge Peter Benson told him that he had exploited Miss Golenya, who was emotionally vulnerable at the time.
“You struck me as being a thoroughly dishonest man,” he said.