Penniless Lancashire man ‘targeted CEO of day spa used by royalty’

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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The owner of a prominent day spa used by royalty has given evidence at the trial of a man accused of defrauding his son and his company to the tune of £1.1m.

John Barley, who founded the Nirvana Spa in Berkshire in 1988, told Preston Crown Court his son Sean - the CEO - had given £973,000 from company accounts to Neil Casson, 48, to invest in a scheme to import sewing machines into the UK.

Casson repeatedly told him there were complications and delays, but Mr Barkey jr, who met Casson in a bar in Lanzarote in 2010, continued to hand over money, and had given him £204,628 from his own account.

Casson, formerly of Wyrevale Park, Garstang, is a man of no financial means who sustains himself and funds his gambling habit by using other people’s money, jurors were told.

Prosecuting, Peter Barr said: “He does so by exploiting what can only be described as the naivety, and maybe greed, in some people and offering them the chance to invest in what can best be called a get rich quick scheme.

““Needless to say the investors never see a return on their investment and invariably lose their initial investment as well.

“We say there was no business opportunity or deal, there were no sewing machines, Sean Barley never saw any and none were ever delivered - it was all a scam orchestrated by Neil Casson.”

The jury was told Casson previously faced many counts of fraud in the run up to the trial which he has admitted, but he denies two fraud charges and one of converting criminal property in relation to Mr Barley.

Casson says the businessman “willingly” gave him cash to buy a house and pay off debts.

The prosecution continues.