A CONMAN who fled to Thailand after swindling almost £18,000 out of local residents appeared in court on his birthday after being arrested at an airport the night before.
Police caught up with Paul Ridden after he was deported from the Far East last Thursday and he was taken into custody as soon as he landed at Heathrow.
Having spent the night in custody, Ridden was hauled before magistrates on Friday morning – when instead of celebrating his 58th birthday he found himself in the dock and admitting to a string of offences.
Ridden, who has no permanent home here in the UK but is formerly of Mallard Close, pleaded guilty to 11 charges – including six of fraud by false representation, four of theft and one of obtaining property by deception.
Heather Salvage, prosecuting, explained, “He was running a property letting businesses and the fraud relates to taking money for deposits when there was no property to move into.”
Ridden also offered to help sort out mortgages for people and in some cases the people duped into forking out cash arrived at properties to find someone already living there.
Ms Salvage added, “There are multiple victims and some have suffered severe hardship, some have lost their homes or life savings.”
The offences took place in Eastbourne on a string of dates back in 2010 and the hunt for Ridden began back in April when he failed to answer to police bail.
Following a lengthy investigation by Sussex Police and work carried alongside the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Ridden was traced to Thailand where he was arrested last month for visa offences.
Ridden, who appeared in the dock flanked by two security guards and initially shunned the offer of legal representation, looked tired during the whistle-stop hearing in which he spoke only to confirm his name and plead guilty to the offences.
He was remanded in custody after offering no appeal for bail and will now be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court at a date still to be arranged.
l Were you one of Ridden’s victims? If you would like to talk about the impact of his fraud, either call us on 414483 or email email@example.com.