'I'm sick to my stomach' – Victims scammed by 'ruthless' conman speak
PUBLISHED: 20:08 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 20:08 02 April 2019
The son of an elderly couple who died before the conman who scammed them was brought to justice said the antiques dealer’s lies made him “sick to his stomach”.
Graeme Silburn, from Harwich, has opened up about the way his parents Patricia and Kenneth were treated by Daniel Clelland, who was jailed for five-and-a-half years this week.
Clelland, 44, of The Old Stables, Little Hallingbury and formerly of Mill Lane in Bradfield, cheated his victims out of an estimated £350,000 worth of family heirlooms.
He befriended clients to his two antique shops – the Dolls House in Harwich and the Scrooge in Manningtree – and strung them along when they failed to get cash from sales or their items back, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.
“I still feel embarrassed and stupid for letting it happen,” said Mr Silburn.
“Dad, who was a retired steam engine driver, died two weeks ago and didn’t see him brought to justice.
“Mum didn’t live to see it either. It makes me feel sick to my stomach, the way they were treated.
“Dad had dementia and Parkinson’s disease, so he was vulnerable.
“He (Clelland) was clever and seemed knowledgeable about the antiques.
“I did think his behaviour was bizarre, he kept coming up with excuses once he had the items.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get them back.”
Among the items taken were a stamp collection, a porcelain doll dating back to the early 1900s, holiday brochures signed by Morecambe and Wise and a postcard collection.
Sentencing Clelland, Judge David Turner QC said the fraudster had conned his victims in a “mean and ruthless way”.
He admitted six offences of fraud by false representation and one of theft between April 2015 and January 2016 on the first day of his trial.
Richard Browning-Smith, another victim, had his great uncle Geoffrey Wear’s First World War medals taken by Clelland.
He said: “Their loss is very traumatic for me.
“No-one from this horrendous conflict is now alive. I did go to the Menin Gate last year, I could have worn these medals in his honour – being his nearest surviving relative.”
The Essex Yeomanry medals all have his great uncle’s name clearly engraved on them.
A gold vesta case was also stolen, which had his name and ‘Essex Yeomanry’ featured on it.
“I am hoping someone must have seen these items, which are my family heirlooms,” he said.
“Regretfully, Geoff Wear on his return from the First World War suffered greatly from shell shock, and the horrendous conditions in the trenches.”
He ended up taking his own life, Mr Browning-Smith added.
“I hope Clelland hears of this so it will haunt him for the rest of his natural life,” he said.
It is understood another item, a stirrup cup belonging to the Essex and Suffolk Hunt, has now been retrieved.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the heirlooms listed above should call Essex Police on 101.
Judge Turner has ordered a further hearing with view to assessing and confiscating Clelland’s assets, in the hope of compensating the victims.