Swindler let off tag because it won't work at his remote home
A swindler has been let off wearing an electronic tag because it doesn’t work in the low-lying Exmoor valley where he lives.
William Hoveman was put on a tagged curfew as part of his punishment for a £13,000 fraud in which he fleeced a neighbour out of his savings.
He was brought back to Exeter Crown Court by tagging firm G4S because they could not get any signal from the monitoring device, which uses mobile phone technology to communicate with their system.
Hoveman, 61, says he abided by the curfew but was reported as being in breach because G4S could not get a signal or a response at his remote home in Parracombe, North Devon.
The former businessman will still have to stay at home overnight for the remainder of his four-month curfew but it will not be tagged and will be monitored by police rather then G4S.
A judge advised him to install a loud door bell to make sure he answers the door if and when police check on him because he risked arrest if he doesn’t.
Hoveman, of of South Hill House, Parracombe, admitted defrauding neighbours Jonathan and Anne Gibson out of £13,000 and was jailed for six months, suspended for a year and curfewed for four months in September.
He befriended his neighbours, persuaded them he was a financial expert, and lured them into investing £40,000 of the savings. He stole £13,000 to pay his granddaughter’s school fees and other debts and lost the rest, leaving them with just £800.
He was brought back to court to amend the curfew order after G4S were unable to make the tag operate.
David Sapiecha, prosecuting, said: ”G4S have visited the property on several occasions and got no reply but it is difficult to say if Hoveman was there as it is a large property.
“The order in its current form has proved unworkable and there is no mobile phone signal in the area and any landline may not be installed before the order runs out in January.
“The suggestion is that the order is simply altered to be a simple curfew with a doorstep condition which would be monitored by the police rather than G4S.”
Nigel Wraith, defending, said: ”He has been complying with the order. He wants me to make it clear he has been at home from 7pm to 7am every night. He is a 61-year-old man who has no issues about doing that.”
Judge Erik Salomonsen removed the requirement to wear an electronic tag but told Hoveman his curfew will continue.
He said: ”You should remain at the house and be available if the police come to check on you. Unlike G4S they have the power of arrest so you will need a door bell that can be heard throughout your extensive property.”
Hoveman was spared jail in September after he raised £9,000 to repay victims Jonathan and Anne Gibson, who he befriended when they lived next door to his home in Parracombe, near Barnstaple.
He has promised to repay the remaining £4,000 that he stole and also faces seizure of his assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The fraud was carried out over six months in 2010 and a police financial investigation showed some of the money had been used to pay school fees for his granddaughter Charlotte and pay off debts.
A victim impact statement from Anne and Jonathan Gibson, who have two children aged nine and 12, said: ”This whole episode has caused great distress to the family. The money represented our savings and we are angry and upset he used it for his own benefit. He abused our friendship and trust.”