April 26, 2023 2.58 pm This story is over 6 months old

Former Spalding United chairman guilty of fraud in £3.9m Ponzi scheme

He spent £134,000 buying cars and a box at Luton town

The former chairman of Spalding United football club was today (Wed) found guilty of nine fraud charges relating to his role in a Ponzi-type scheme which was based in the town.

Christopher Toynton, 73, had denied acting dishonestly but was convicted after a two month trial at Lincoln Crown Court.

The jury found Toynton, of Horseshoe Road, Spalding, guilty of four charges of fraud by false representation, and five charges of fraud by abuse of position, all by unanimous verdicts.

The offences occurred between November 2017 and March 2019.

He also was cleared of one charge of fraud by false representation.

The court heard many investors were left out of pocket after £3.9 million was poured into the spread betting scheme, named the Lottery Syndicate Club.

Police became involved after an account belonging to the scheme’s so-called “whizz kid” trader, Spalding based Ross Gibson, was frozen by his bank.

This prompted a lengthy investigation by Lincolnshire Police, the court was told.

Prosecutors said Toynton spent £134,000 of the £3.9 million fund on himself, buying two cars valued at £54,000 and sharing a box at Luton Town.

They alleged Toynton, who compared Gibson to the legendary footballer George Best, also represented to potential investors that the scheme was safe and low risk.

During the trial, prosecution barrister Julian Jones, likened the Lottery Syndicate Club to a Ponzi or Pyramid scheme where investors were paid out from new members joining the syndicate.

Toynton chose not to give evidence during the two month trial – but during his police interviews he denied acting dishonestly, and said he believed everything Mr Gibson was telling him.

He likened the trading scheme to a punt which overwhelmed him after becoming wildly successful, and said he carried out administration as there was no one else to do it.

The jury were directed to clear Toynton of a regulatory offence after the trial judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to conclude that he was acting as an agent or offering financial advice.

He was also cleared of two other fraud charges after they were dropped by the prosecution.

Gibson, 27, now of Eve Lane, Upper Gornal, Dudley, was remanded into custody before the start of the trial after pleading guilty to three offences between 1 November 2017 and 31 March 2019.

Following the conviction of Mr Toynton, prosecution barrister Julian Jones said the Crown would be putting the case against both men in the highest levels of culpability and harm.

Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight adjourned the case for both men to be sentenced together.

“There are two defendants I need to sentence, Mr Toynton and Mr Gibson,” Judge Sjolin Knight said.

“The proper approach will be to sentence them together.”

Toynton’s barrister, James Bourne-Arton, asked for him to be granted bail until the sentence hearing.

“He understands the implications of a guilty verdict. He has turned up on each and every occasion.

“He is not an old man, but he is not a young man, and would no doubt welcome an opportunity to put his affairs in order.”

Mr Bourne-Arton also argued Mr Toynton was not a flight risk.

“There is no suggestion he has squirreled away any of the money from this fraud.”

Toynton will be sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court on 12 May and was remanded into custody by Judge Sjolin Knight who rejected a bail application  and told him: “You are now a convicted fraudster.”

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