Self-confessed swindler fights back the tears

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The Independent Online

A self-confessed swindler dubbed "King Con" fought back tears today as he blamed his life of crime on childhood abuse.

Paul Bint, 47, currently on trial for posing as Britain's top barrister to allegedly "worm" his way into the "hearts and homes" of lonely women, said he had spent decades posing as others because he wanted to "impress and appear successful".

He told London's Southwark Crown Court that despite committing 155 offences - many by pretending to be other people - he just wanted to be loved for who he really was.

One of his greatest fears now was "growing old and being alone".

During an emotional witness box resume of his life, the former estate agent admitted repeatedly adopting the personas of doctors and senior lawyers, the most recent being that of director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC.

In the process he had featured in hundreds of newspaper articles and five TV documentaries.

"People have this picture of me which is completely inaccurate, and I don't see how I am ever going to get around this problem," he complained.

Bint - once described by a barrister as "making Walter Mitty look like a nine o'clock news reader - continued: "I don't think I would describe myself as a conman, or King Con Man or King of the Swindlers, as the newspapers call me."

There had been occasions when he could have stolen "hundreds of thousands of pounds", but never had.

However, as someone who had repeatedly "lied about myself and my status" he had "made a rod for my own back and I accept that".

He told defence barrister Gavin Holme: "Part of the reason I have for all these continual performances is that I very much care what people think about me. It is a very big issue in my life. I want people to think 'he is obviously a good person'. That is very, very important to me.

"Maybe a lot of people are not bothered what other people think about them. I, however, am very bothered."

Pretending "makes me feel very good even though I know I am deceiving someone. It makes me feel very good that someone thinks I am a good person and I'm successful."

Bint, of no fixed address, denies 15 charges between April 27 and May 16 this year.

Nine accuse him of fraud by false representation - one for allegedly cheating a taxi driver of a £60 fare, while the remainder are said to have been committed while systematically milking the bank account of one of his "conquests".

Four other counts claim he drove various cars while disqualified. He allegedly pretended he was interested in buying one of them, a £59,000 Audi R8, while the rest were owned by two of the women he is said to have targeted.

The remaining charges are for burglary and theft.

He was formally cleared today of another disqualified driving count after prosecutor Riel Karmy-Jones announced she was no longer offering any evidence.

The Crown claims Bint posed as Mr Starmer and another top barrister to "worm his way into the homes, and in some cases the hearts", of women.

Ms Karmy-Jones said his latest crimes amounted to a "spree of fraud and deception" as the serial swindler wined and dined unsuspecting victims, boasting of his imaginary life as a lawyer with high-powered connections.

He allegedly told one he had booked an exotic holiday for two in a sun-drenched Caribbean idyll before giving her a bracelet allegedly stolen from another he had allegedly targeted.

The barrister insisted Bint also boasted of owning luxury cars, including one used in the James Bond film Goldeneye, had socialised with former 007 star Pierce Brosnan, was friends with singer Robbie Williams, and had once been married to British comedy actress Sarah Alexander.

Closing the prosecution case, she disclosed a list of so-called "agreed facts", including Bint's 28 previous court appearances and convictions for 155 offences.

These included 44 frauds and "kindred" crimes, 81 thefts or similar misdemeanours, offences against "the person and property", brushes with the law "relating to police, courts and prisons", and various "miscellaneous" matters.

Giving evidence, Bint told jurors that to give his criminal career "some perspective you probably have to go back to when I was about 12.

"I was quite badly abused as a child and suffered some quite serious injuries."

He ended up in hospital as a result.

"I'm not using it as an excuse. I'm really not. I know there are people who go through these experiences and don't lead the kind of life I've led.

"But it was a period in which I suffered at the hands of people who I believed loved me."

Northampton-born Bint, whose first crime at 15 was stealing fishing equipment, told jurors: "I lived in an absolute dream world, and it started back then, I started to pretend to be other people.

"I used to daydream about living in a big house and having people around that loved me".

When aged 16, he "started to act out my dreams", initially by burgling Northampton General Hospital, pocketing a stethoscope and posing as a doctor because of the kindness shown to him while a patient.

"It made me forget what the reality was, and for me it was a way of escaping. It always has been."

Bint - who said his father committed suicide on Christmas Day 1993, while his mother was currently married to husband number seven - said as the years passed his exploits made more headlines.

In 2000 he claimed he was a barrister, pretended his laptop had been stolen on a Virgin train, and tricked the rail company into putting him up free in Edinburgh's five-star Caledonian Hotel.

While there he met and dated former Miss Scotland Nicola Ginelli.

He also admitted tricking a car salesman into letting him test drive an Aston Martin because it "made me feel very, very good about myself".

But, he insisted, his life was not all pretence and on one occasion he had rescued a young family from a burning building.

On the question of the opposite sex he said: "I would like to think women don't just go out with people because of who they say they are or what they do."

But whenever he had sat down and told them about his past it "hasn't worked".

"I have made a rod for my own back, and I accept that. I just don't want to grow old and I don't want to be alone. Who does?"

During further questioning, Bint denied targeting his latest alleged victims to defraud them and said he had genuinely been interested in seeing if the friendships could develop into something "long term".

The defendant, who spoke of making money gambling - particularly poker and backgammon sessions with members of east London's Turkish community - also dismissed Crown claims he pocketed a barrister's laptop and drove while disqualified.

He added that far from stealing a bracelet from one women to give to another, he had bought it for £90.