Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lady Heath and the Charming Con Man

In 1927, Lady Heath fell victim to a  con man called Frederick Edgar Oldrey, who passed himself off as Squadron Leader Stuart, an Old Etonian and aviation expert.
With his dark good looks, he managed to win over Lady Heath (or Mrs Eliott-Lynn as she was when she met him) and ended up stealing a cheque book, suit case and other articles from her.
When the case came to court in March 1928, he asked that six other charges of having credit by fraud and attempting to obtain motor cars and other goods by false pretences should be taken into consideration.
By then he was aged 30 and had a long history of similar charges. He had spent time in Borstal where he was regarded as "a model boy" (for all the good it did him). "Borstal," he said "was a sink of iniquity where the lads boast of and compare their various crimes."
In the judge's view, the root of the problem for Oldrey was his "inordinate vanity". On one occasion, he went to the Avro Aviation Company's offices in Piccadilly and negotiated for the purchase of an aeroplane for £785 in which he was given a trial flight from London.
"Oldrey told the pilot that he was a millionaire and that it mattered not to him whether he spent £700 or seven pence. But before they parted company, he succeeded in borrowing £2 from the airman."
Det Sgt John Sands said that Oldrey was sent to Highbury Industrial School for stealing money when under 13. He had ten further convictions, including a term at Borstal from which he escaped. His latest sentence was for 23 months hard labour.
"Oldrey is a well-spoken man and had educated himself in various establishments in which he has been detained in a wonderful manner.His theoretical knowledge of aviation is remarkable and he is in a position to converse freely on such matters with persons of many years experience."
He was sentenced to three years.

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