A SHAMELESS conman who preyed on honest people used "smoke and mirrors" to steal nearly £40,000 from a man he looked on as a father.
Kristden Kinson, who faked documents and contracts, invented characters and involved his mother in his scams, was jailed for nearly three years for a series of thefts.
Principal victim Brian Cook, who owns the West End Motors car dealership in Bodmin, met Kinson, 39, in 2010 when he approached him with a car park security business idea.
Iain White, for the prosecution, told Truro Crown Court last Wednesday: "Mr Kinson had been aware that a firm called Armtrac which operated in that area was for sale, and as such he suggested to Mr Cook that he should buy it and that Mr Kinson should manage the operation."
Mr Cook, who is in his mid-seventies, bought the business, worth about £360,000, made Kinson a 3 per cent shareholder – a gift worth about £12,000 – and agreed to pay the conman a £25,000 salary. Once the business, called KBT Cornwall Ltd, was in profit Kinson was in line to own 33 per cent, which Mr Cook anticipated could be worth £1 million: but within months Kinson was conning his employer out of thousands of pounds.
The first scam was set up in August last year when Kinson told Mr Cook he had secured a contract to run the Perranporth Gardens Charity car park and would need £6,000 to pay for ticket machines.
He got another staff member to draft a fake contract and Mr Cook duly paid the money, which Kinson pocketed.
Kinson also had a contract with car park owner David Proctor, of New Cornwall Developments, to collect cash from its machines at Discovery Quay, Falmouth, but failed to hand it over. Mr White said between June and December last year the resulting loss amounted to £10,760.45.
"Mr Cook [learnt] money was owed by KBT to New Cornwall Developments and legal action was pending to try and recover the debt," he said.
Mr Cook paid the money to avoid court.
Then in November last year Kinson began his most audacious scheme, telling Mr Cook he had secured a deal to run 26 car parks all over Cornwall, brokered through Newlyn Harbour Commission, and needed about £30,000 for pay-and- display machines.
Mr Cook asked to meet the parties and Kinson agreed, arranging lunch dates with a fictitious character, called Don Shannon, who he said was organising the contract.
The lunches never happened and Mr Cook phoned Newlyn Harbour Commission, where a secretary said she had seen something about the contract.
Reassured, Mr Cook paid the money but Mr White said: "In fact what the secretary had seen was an unsolicited contract sent by Mr Kinson. It was all smoke and mirrors."
Kinson had the cash transferred to his mother's account, telling her it was a work bonus, and she withdrew it for him.
Mr White said: "She was completely duped by him – by her own son."
Kinson told police he had given the money to a loan shark – a claim contested by the prosecution – but admitted he had deceived Mr Cook.
After Kinson was jailed Detective Constable Dave Fortey said: "He got what he deserved; he preyed on honest people," but would not confirm or deny whether inquiries into Kinson were continuing.