A former Suffolk farmer accused of defrauding a string of creditors out of “hundreds of thousands of pounds” by buying goods and services he knew he couldn’t pay for has been convicted of fraud by a jury.

Thirty-five-year-old Wayne Parker issued cheques for thousands of pounds that bounced on accounts which only contained a few pennies or which were empty, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Parker, formerly of Suffolk, but now of Hazel Grove, Feltham, denied participating in a fraudulent business with intent to defraud creditors by incurring debts but was convicted after a three week trial.

Nadia Silver, prosecuting for Suffolk Trading Standards, claimed that Parker bought goods on credit and on the goodwill of suppliers and assured them he was a person of good standing who would pay what he owed.

“The prosecution say that when he incurred debts to the trades people who supplied him in good faith he was acting dishonestly and knew that he couldn’t pay his debts and had no intention of paying them and told lies to these people in order to extend credit to him,” said Miss Silver

She said that over a period of two and a half years Parker’s offending had resulted in losses of “hundreds of thousands of pounds” to creditors.

She said that Parker had an “established pattern” in the way he conducted the fraud and would frequently make an initial cash payment and then issue cheques that bounced or he would tell the bank to stop the cheques.

When Parker was chased for payment he assured creditors that full payment would be made and would use delaying tactics by saying the money was on its way or blame a problem with a new bank account.

He would also claim his bank account had been hacked or that the debt had already been paid.

“He sometimes provided screenshots of purported confirmation of payments but theses were lies,” said Miss Silver.

She claimed that Parker had bought livestock including sheep and cattle and had failed to make payments for them.

He had then sold them without the suppliers knowledge while they were still the legal owners of them.

On one occasion he purchased a Range Rover on finance and had then issued cheques which bounced.

When he was asked to return the vehicle he made excuses and kept hold of it as long as he could, said Miss Silver.

After Parker was declared bankrupt he had continued to engage the services of vets and suppliers and didn’t tell them as he was obliged to that he was bankrupt, she said.

Parker will be sentenced on November 16.

Following the conviction, Graham Crisp, Head of Suffolk Trading Standards, said: “During this time, he racked up an astounding £765,121 of debt with his victims, many of whom were small business owners themselves who faced financial hardship as a direct result of Parker’s actions leaving them significantly out of pocket.

“This has been an incredibly lengthy and complex investigation, but I am delighted that our Trading Standards team has brought about a successful prosecution that will see Parker face justice for his crimes.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Andrew Reid, cabinet member for Public Health and Public ProtectionAndrew Reid, cabinet member for Public Health and Public Protection (Image: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL)

Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection, added: “I am immensely grateful to officers from Suffolk Trading Standards for their tireless work on this case.

“Wayne Parker knew full well that he did not have the funds to pay off his debts, but this did not stop him from making more and more purchases, from livestock to luxury cars. Even once declared bankrupt, he continued to lie to suppliers, taking advantage of their trust and good faith in him without any thought to the consequences.

“We recognise that Parker is in the minority, with most business owners in Suffolk being true to their word. However, I hope today’s outcome sends a clear message to anyone tempted to use lies and deception to live beyond their means that this behaviour will not be tolerated in our county.”

Parker was previously prosecuted by Suffolk Trading Standards for posing a serious risk of spreading Bovine Tuberculosis. His crimes then included failing to dispose of farmed animal remains appropriately, moving large quantities of cattle without following the required processes and not keeping adequate records of his cattle.