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Gloucestershire Business News

Swindling art dealer to the stars faces more jail time

The assets of a crooked Cotswold art dealer who cheated rich and famous clients out of more than a quarter of a million pounds have dwindled to just £2,500, a judge heard.

Even that small sum is not immediately available to compensate Jonathan Poole's victims because it is tied up in a painting which he jointly owns with one of his victims, Gloucester Crown Court was told.

The painting, of model Kate Moss by artist Sebastian Kruger, had initially been estimated by the Crown Prosecution Service at an earlier hearing to be worth £15,000

But today at a proceeds of crime hearing at Gloucester crown court prosecutor James Ward conceded that its value is only £5,000. That means that Poole is liable to hand over just £2,500 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, even though the total loss to his victims was £266,143-50, said Mr Ward.

Judge Michael Cullum formally an order certifying Poole's benefit from crime and his available assets.

He said Poole must pay the £2,500 within three months or he will have to spend an extra two months in jail - on top of the four-year term he is currently serving for 24 offences of theft and two of fraud.

At earlier hearings the court was told that Poole, who ran the Compton Cassey Gallery int he Cotswolds, cheated clients including TV illusionist Derren Brown and Dire Straits guitarist John Illsley.

His biggest victim was Edinburgh company director Mark Noble - who jointly owns the Kate Moss painting with him.

Mr Noble lost £142,000 to Poole's scams.

Poole represented artists including Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood and the estate of John Lennon and sold paintings on their behalf.

Poole had traded for more than forty years and millionaire clients in Britain and Germany trusted him implicitly to buy, sell and exhibit works for them.

He specialised in paintings by celebrities of other celebrities. The subjects of the paintings involved in his crimes included Kate Moss, Steve McQueen, Ringo Starr, Jack Nicholson, Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, Bob Dylan and Johnny Depp.

The court heard that during a thirty year period Poole cheated and deceived some of his clients - telling them he would sell paintings for them but then pocketing the proceeds without informing them there had been a sale.

One one occasion he sold a £10,000 painting twice but never delivered to either of the buyers.

His own brother, Nicholas, was also a loser after paying Poole £10,000 for a Ronnie Wood painting that belonged to one of the gallery's clients.

Poole, of Poulton, nr Cirencester, Glos, had pleaded guilty to the 24 offences of theft and two of fraud for which he was jailed.

Today he refused to leave his cell at Channings Wood prison near Newton Abott, Devon, to attend the confiscation hearing and the jail said it did not have enough staff to supervise a video link hearing.

Therefore the hearing went ahead in Poole's absence. Mr Ward said it was understandable that he did not wish to attend as he is n poor health and it is a long distance to travel.

Judge Cullum said there was no prejudice to Poole to deal with the case in his absence because the reduction in value of his assets and the amount he will have to forfeit is in his favour,

Mr Ward had told the judge the painting was initially valued at £15,000 by an auction house used by the CPS. It had now been valued, however, by the Pall Mall Auction House which handles all Mr Noble's sales and purchases andf they had assessed it at £5,000 because of some damage to it.

It would now be up to Poole either to talk to Mr Noble and arrange to sell it or for him top buy his share, said Mr Ward.

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