A church elder who stole a woman’s £600,000 life savings has been sentenced to pay only £1 in restitution.

A church elder who stole a woman’s £600,000 life savings and told her it was going into an offshore scheme that didn’t exist has been ordered to pay back just £1.

David Vaughan Jones, 83, a founder of the Evangelical Church in Newtown, Powys, conned members of his congregation out of their money by recommending the bogus plan. He reportedly posed as a respected tax consultant to lure fellow members of his congregation into the scam.

A court heard businesswoman Sharon Myler was the ‘largest single loser’, defrauded of £606,000.

Prosecutor James Davis explained how she only realised the scam when he was jailed for other financial frauds.

‘He persuaded clients to invest in offshore accounts which he said would provide a much better return than investing in this country,’ Mr. Davis said.

‘But police uncovered no evidence of him ever investing in offshore accounts. It could only be concluded the funds never existed.’

Mold Crown Court heard Miss Myler handed over six separate amounts of ranging from £30,000 to £160,000 to Jones.

But investigators found no trace of the money – and he was ordered just to pay a nominal £1.

‘A financial investigation found no assets that could be realised to make any contribution towards that figure,’ said Mr Davis.

‘The defendant is on a private and state pension. His honour is therefore invited to simply make a nominal order of £1 today. Clearly, should any assets materialise in the future, this is a matter that can and should be revisited.’

In a victim impact statement, Ms Myler said: ‘David Jones stole my life savings, causing huge financial and personal hardship. He betrayed my trust, frequently lied to me, and took a large sum of money from me. It was terribly embarrassing for me to have to borrow money from my family.’

However, he lacked any financial qualifications and was a disgraced former solicitor who was expelled from The Law Society in the early 1990s.

Over a 20-year period, ‘prominent’ Jones used his influence in the church to encourage members to part up substantial sums of money, according to the court.

Jones, of Llandrinio, Powys, was told by Judge Niclas Parry that the money could not be traced.

‘It should be noted that an inquiry was conducted by officials whose job it is to investigate these problems,’ he said.

‘It’s amazing that they can’t find it, given how much money was taken.’ It is correct to state that the inquiry will continue, and that if assets are discovered, the order will be reconsidered.

‘There are still individuals pleading with me to act, who naturally believe I’ve let them down.’

‘I just want them to know that there are individuals looking into it and have been looking for the remaining funds.’ These people have been through so much.’

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