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Conman jailed for nearly four years boasts of hotel stays on social media

31 January 2017 by
Conman jailed for nearly four years boasts of hotel stays on social media

By Annette Belcher and Ross McCarthy

A brazen conman posted a review on social media of a hotel where he was posing as a wealthy businessman.

David Johnstone, 47, ran up thousands of pounds worth of debt by using a cancelled credit card to book the presidential suite at the newly opened Park Regis hotel in Birmingham.

The fraudster, of no fixed address, had also lived a VIP lifestyle by staying at another new property, the AC Hotel in the city's Mailbox.

He ran up £124,000 in bills at both hotels during his crime spree, from June to December last year, by after he "persuaded" both hotels to use a rarely used "override" facility to book in advance on credit.

Johnstone has been jailed at Birmingham Crown Court for three years and nine months after previously admitting two charges of fraud.

The conman even posted a review of one of the hotels on his Facebook page, during the time of his fraudulent behaviour.

Sharing a link to the Park Regis official site on 11 October, he wrote: "An amazing staff in an incredible space. Come for lunch and stay for tea."

Park Regis Birmingham then responded to the Facebook post, thanking Johnstone for promoting the business.

Johnstone was known to staff at the Park Regis as a generous tipper.

The court heard Johnstone, who was posing as a businessman and hedge fund manager who worked for a Swiss bank, was clocking up bills of up to £700 per day.

Patrick Sullivan, prosecuting, said Johnstone "had built up the trust of the people at both hotels. He was very plausible, looked the part, he was a model guest."

The court was told it was unlikely all the money would be recovered by the hotels and that the deception had had a "big" effect on those who worked there, with the threat of people losing their jobs.

Mr Recorder Syfret QC told Johnstone: "You were utterly manipulative and knew completely what you were doing. You were thoroughly dishonest.

"You took the opportunity to ingratiate yourself with the staff. You enjoyed what you did but the time has now come when you must pay. The staff must have been feeling utterly humiliated."

The court heard that Johnstone had a previous conviction for a $176,000 (£139,993)fraud relating to a hedge fund in the United States.

Joseph Keating, defending, said he had come to Birmingham because his father, who was unwell, lived in the city but his client found himself without an address.

He said Johntone had previously been employed at managerial level at various companies, and was owed £200,000.

"His intention was always that the money would be repaid," said Mr Keating.

The Park Regis presidential suite, where Johnstone set up home, had previously used by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg when he had been filming in the city.

Europe's first Park Regis hotel appoints Robin Ford as GM >>

Valor to manage first two AC Hotels by Marriott in the UK >>

Conman who targeted five-star hotels jailed for 34 months >>

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