Published: 13:02, 25 September 2019
| Updated: 13:05, 25 September 2019
A crooked businessman controlled a nationwide fraud from his prison cell, a court has heard.
Blake Paterson, formerly of Maidstone, had been jailed in 2016 but then directed friends and family to continue the £280,000 rip off, it is alleged.
He ran the scam to defraud Britain's largest kitchen supplier using phones smuggled inside prison.
Now a jury at Maidstone Crown Court has heard that even when the phones were discovered by prison staff he just ordered four more Zanco 'fly' mobiles - billed as the world's smallest phone.
Paterson, 34, of no fixed address, has admitted his part in the conspiracy together with his partner, beautician Toni Stylianou, 33, of Bexley Road, Erith.
Now Daniel London, 35, and former lover Danielle Nye, 23, both of Queensbridge Drive, Herne Bay and Paterson’s step-father Graham Nichols, 49, of Churchin Close, Westerham are on trial accused of being part of a conspiracy to defraud trade kitchen suppliers Howdens Joinery Group between January 2015 and June 2017.
All three deny the charge.
"Paterson was jailed, which you may think made it a little more difficult for him to defraud people while he was in prison... I mean that's sort of the point of prison..." — Prosecutor Will Martin
Prosecutor Will Martin told the jury how Paterson mastermind the fraud by using 48 companies to get credit from the suppliers or by using stolen credit cards.
He said items were then ordered but then sold on eBay at a knock-down price and Howdens were never paid for the goods collected.
"This case is about a dishonest man called Blake Paterson and his dishonest friends, family and associates, who helped Paterson with his plan to defraud Howdens Joinery.
"Each of the defendants played a different part in this dishonest plan, which was simple but effective in conning the company out of £280,000 in kitchen goods."
The prosecutor said the three were brought in when Paterson was sent to prison to allow him to “carry on making money from his prison cell”.
Mr Martin told the jury: "On March 17, 2016, Paterson was jailed, which you may think made it a little more difficult for him to defraud people while he was in prison... I mean that's sort of the point of prison."
He claimed that multiple phones and sim cards were smuggled into prison which enable Paterson to send messages, sometimes on WhatsApp, for Nicholls to buy more phones.
"Some of Paterson's phones were discovered by prison staff. The very next day, on August 30, 2016, Nicholls helped Paterson source four Zanco phones," he added.
He claimed finger prints of London, who ran Smart Choice Kitchens (Kent) and Smart Choice Builders, and Nye, the company secretary, were found on the “production line of fake applications in different company names in different locations around the country”.
And prison authorities recorded a conversation between Nichols and Paterson regarding money he claimed he was owed by a company to whom he sold the stolen kitchen.
The prosecutor said that deliveries were ordered to an established address but then "at the last minute" it would change and the goods would be collected from the depot by "a man with a van" — usually London's father, Joseph, it was alleged.
The goods were then often sold on eBay under the account names Blake and Toni and some items would be defrauded "to order" and bought by unsuspecting workers in the building trade
Mr Martin said: "It is not disputed by any of the defendants that the conspiracy existed and it is not disputed that Paterson and Stylianou were involved as both have pleaded guilty.
"The three defendants become much more involved in the conspiracy after Paterson goes to prison. It is clear Paterson was determined to continue to make money from inside prison and the defendants seemed happy enough to help him."
The trial continues.
More by this authorPaul Hooper