Champagne-loving conman faces jail after £275K pensioners scam

Champagne-loving conman who claimed he was buying a £2m Grand Designs while in fact living in rented caravan and relying on handouts from his elderly mother faces jail for conning pensioners out of £275,000

  • Layne Perry, 39, pretended to be a millionaire playboy who flew helicopters
  • Really, he was living in a rented caravan and relying on money from his mother

A champagne-loving conman who claimed he was buying a £2million property from TV’s Grand Designs is facing jail after being found guilty of swindling vulnerable pensioners.

Layne Perry, 39, pretended to be a millionaire playboy who flew helicopters, rode with the local hunt and was a high roller at casinos.

But all the time Perry was living in a rented seaside caravan and relying on handouts from his mother.

Ex-solder Perry ‘flashed the cash’ to impress an elderly widow and a married couple who shared his love of the countryside and horses.

He took one of his victims to view Kemeys Folly in South Wales which appeared on Channel 4’s Grand Designs in 2009 and is currently on the market for £1.85m.

Layne Perry, who faces 25 counts of fraud and theft, makes his way to Cardiff Crown Court

This was the Grand Designs property, on sale for £1.85m, that Perry claimed he was buying

Perry told the widow he was buying stables where she could have a rent-free lodge to live the rest of her life in the Gloucestershire countryside.

Prosecutor Emma Harris told a jury: ‘Layne Perry is a fraudster, someone who sets out to dupe and cheat people whom he first befriends.

City banker from Welsh council estate returns to convert derelict property into a six-bed delight that featured on Grand Designs 


‘He gained their trust by portraying an air of success and affluence, suggesting to them that he lives a life of luxury and excess which would mean their money would be safe with him.’

During his six-week fraud trial at Cardiff Crown Court, Perry told the prosecuting barrister: ‘I earn more money than you do.’

Perry claims to have worked for merchant bankers Close Brothers and payment processing company Global Payments UK. He told the court he makes £80,000-a-year as a professional gambler.

But the jury heard his main source of income was a £2,000-a-month allowance from his elderly mother.

The proceedings were briefly halted after Perry was caught removing official court lists pinned to notice boards inside the building. He told the judge he wanted them as an ‘aide-memoire’ for the book he is writing.

Perry, of South Kensington, London, was found guilty of 23 charges of fraud involving £275,000 of his victims’ money and loans taken out in their names.

Prosecutor Ms Harris told how Perry befriended Charles Gwilliam and his wife Val at livery stables in Bridgend, South Wales, where they kept three horses.

She said: ‘Perry took out loans in their name and applied for credit cards in their name. He portrayed himself as the Gwilliams to make a gain of approximately £76,000 across the various financial institutions.

Ex-solder Perry ‘flashed the cash’ to impress an elderly widow and a married couple

 He took one of his victims to view this stunning Kemeys Folly mansion in South Wales 

The property appeared on Channel 4 ‘s Grand Designs in 2009 and is on sale for over £1.5m

‘Perry told the couple he was going to buy a house called Kemeys Folly near Newport and took Mr Gwilliam to visit the property.

‘Perry asked Mr Gwilliam to give up his job and go to live at the property with his wife and Mr Perry’s partner Serena.’

Mr Gwilliam, 67, said he thought of Perry as a best friend and that Perry had described him and his wife as ‘like a second mum and dad.’

But he said he was ‘frightened’ after discovering unauthorised loans and financial agreements in his name for more than £130,000 taken out by Perry without his knowledge.

Delivery driver Mr Gwilliam told the jury: ‘I told him I knew what was going on and I was contacting the banks and the police.

‘He told me if it went to court his barrister would put Val in hospital or in the ground. I’ve never spoken to him since.’

Perry also befriended recently widowed Sharan(CORR) Jones, 69, from Aberdare, South Wales, and set out to exploit her vulnerability.

Miss Harris said: ‘He would visit her, take her out for meals, he would give her lifts to her caravan in Porthcawl. He would tell Mrs Jones he was wealthy and successful.

‘In early 2019, he gained control of Mrs Jones’ finances. He knew that she trusted him and he abused that trust, using it to facilitate his fraudulent activities.

‘He took control of her bank cards and her means of identification, including her driving licence and passport.’

Retired hotelier and hairdressing salon owner Mrs Jones met Perry at a Christmas party in 2018. She told the court: ‘He said he was wealthy, he took me horse racing. He lived the horse life and he loved champagne.

The house boasts a large open-plan living room that includes an abundance of lighting

The folly, which dates back to the 1700s, has a mix of contemporary features to offer contrast

‘I was going to have a new life. In my mind’s eye it was like something off the telly. I embraced it. I thought I’d have company for the rest of my life.

‘He cared so much for me, I trusted him implicitly, like a member of my family.

‘He would take my letters unopened, I just gave them to him. I didn’t know how to use internet banking – Layne said he would set it up.

‘He told me: ‘You don’t have to do nothing, just look after yourself.’

Perry siphoned £98,000 from Mrs Jones’s accounts and set up multiple credit cards and loans in her name. In all, he took £145,000 from her.

The conman was caught when police pulled over his top-of-the range black 5-series BMW in Leicestershire and found Mrs Jones passport and financial documents relating to the various frauds all committed in 2019.

Remanding him in custody until Friday when he will be sentenced, Judge Paul Hobson told Perry he had been exposed as a ‘deceitful and dishonest man’.

Det Cons Ian Pring and Neville Evans, who led the investigation, praised the bravery of Mrs Jones and the Gwilliams in coming forward to give evidence.

South Wales Police believe other victims may now come forward.

DC Pring said after the case: ‘In my mind he’s a conman, he’s a fantasist. He perceives himself to be a wealthy businessman, claims to be a millionaire, a helicopter pilot and of course it’s all just a lie. His whole life is built on lies.’

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