A confidence trickster who convinced more than 8,000 people to invest millions in his pyramid schemes has won a cut in his prison sentence after appeal judges ruled he was not a thief.
Kevin Foster, from Doddington, lived a life of luxury on the £1.4 million he made from the schemes which promised investors massive returns but ended with many of them making huge losses.
The 52-year-old, of Seed Road, was jailed for 10 years at Harrow Crown Court in April last year after he was convicted of multiple thefts and dishonest concealment.
But three Appeal Court judges quashed Foster’s theft convictions, ruling them unsafe, and cut his jail term to nine years.
Lord Justice Elias told the court the scheme started off as a betting ring in 2000 which promised its members good returns from group gambling on English football.
Buoyed by the syndicate’s success, Foster expanded his operation and took on a number of pyramid schemes which at their height had convinced 8,500 people to invest about £35 million.
The judge said investors were only paid back when others joined the schemes and hundreds lost their money when the operation was shut down by the Serious Fraud Office in 2004.
Foster made £1.4 million from the schemes. He spent the money on a country pad, a swimming pool and exotic animals.
But his lawyers argued that some investors had handed over cash “without imposing obligations” on Foster to use it in a particular way and it could therefore not be said he had “stolen” their money when he spent it on himself.
Lord Justice Elias, sitting with Mr Justice Mackay and Mr Justice Hickinbottom, said that because some of the money was free for Foster to use in any way he deemed necessary, his actions could not amount to theft.
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