As much as £150,000 'missing' after Lapland New Forest fiasco

Daily Echo: The nativity scene at Lapand New Forest The nativity scene at Lapand New Forest

THE conmen brothers behind the Lapland New Forest fiasco are being chased for £150,000 “missing” from the accounts of the firm behind the failed attraction.

Victor and Henry Mears, who were last week convicted of misleading tens of thousands of unsuspecting customers at their “winter wonderland” theme park, raked in £1.2m in advance ticket sales before it collapsed in 2008.

But only around half of the people who handed over money, in some cases hundreds of pounds for family tickets, have so far received anything back, leading to others cheated out of cash to demand a full investigation of the brothers’ finances.

And it is has now been revealed the accountancy firm liquidating Lapland New Forest has claimed the brothers illegally transferred £150,000 out of the company before it went bust.

The theme park was the scene of angry bust-ups when horrified families turned up to the Matchams site, near Ringwood, to discover it was far from the dazzling Christmas wonderland that had been advertised.

Parents and children watched on in disgust as Santa had heated slanging matches with disgruntled visitors, and sulking elves smoked in open sight of youngsters.

Elsewhere, the “magical” experience promised in adverts turned out to comprise of a few fairy lights scattered amongst trees, a nativity scene painted on a billboard in a muddy field, huskies chained to stakes, a broken ice rink and a plastic polar bear.

Last week, after a two-month trial at Bristol Crown Court, 67-year-old Victor Mears, a convicted fraudster, and his 60-year-old former boxer brother Henry, were found guilty by a jury of eight trading offences.

The pair, both from Brighton, have been warned they could face jail and unlimited fines after being convicted of five counts of engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading action, and three charges of engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading omission.

Accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which has now taken control of Lapland New Forest’s assets as it tries to liquidate it and pay off some of its debts, said a statement to creditors on the company’s position is likely to be published within weeks.

It added it is bringing a legal claim the brothers illegally siphoned off cash before it went into liquidation.

The brothers are due to be sentenced on March 18.

Comments (5)

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11:00am Wed 23 Feb 11

Sylvia's Mother said ..... says...

They should have all their assets confiscated to refund all of those ripped off.
They should have all their assets confiscated to refund all of those ripped off. Sylvia's Mother said .....
  • Score: 0

11:59am Wed 23 Feb 11

The Watcher says...

You could confiscate all of their assets (but they would have already transferred any to siblings, spouses, families or companies where they can't be touched).
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You could fine them (but the court will just accept they will be unable to pay them due to having no funds).
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On this occasion, even if they do get some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure, then I'm afraid crime will have paid (as they will walk free to bags of money under the floorboards).
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I have never been confident that the courts have been able to sentence sufficiently for fraud cases, nor be able to sufficiently recover any monies "earned".
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The selling of items bought from proceeds is only the tip of the iceberg and window dressing to make us feel better, because I'm sure on most occasions there will still be bags of money sat around somewhere.
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Personally, I would calculate how much is still missing and then divide this by the daily rate earned whilst working in prison, giving an effectiove sentence that way.
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The current sanctions and sentences for fraud are not sufficient enough to deter these lowlifes who see it merely as a career hazard and one which they are happy to take on the chin if the rewards are big enough (which they often are).
You could confiscate all of their assets (but they would have already transferred any to siblings, spouses, families or companies where they can't be touched). . . You could fine them (but the court will just accept they will be unable to pay them due to having no funds). . . On this occasion, even if they do get some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure, then I'm afraid crime will have paid (as they will walk free to bags of money under the floorboards). . . I have never been confident that the courts have been able to sentence sufficiently for fraud cases, nor be able to sufficiently recover any monies "earned". . . The selling of items bought from proceeds is only the tip of the iceberg and window dressing to make us feel better, because I'm sure on most occasions there will still be bags of money sat around somewhere. . . Personally, I would calculate how much is still missing and then divide this by the daily rate earned whilst working in prison, giving an effectiove sentence that way. . . The current sanctions and sentences for fraud are not sufficient enough to deter these lowlifes who see it merely as a career hazard and one which they are happy to take on the chin if the rewards are big enough (which they often are). The Watcher
  • Score: 0

12:15pm Wed 23 Feb 11

BMWDellboy says...

The Watcher wrote:
You could confiscate all of their assets (but they would have already transferred any to siblings, spouses, families or companies where they can't be touched).
.
.
You could fine them (but the court will just accept they will be unable to pay them due to having no funds).
.
.
On this occasion, even if they do get some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure, then I'm afraid crime will have paid (as they will walk free to bags of money under the floorboards).
.
.
I have never been confident that the courts have been able to sentence sufficiently for fraud cases, nor be able to sufficiently recover any monies "earned".
.
.
The selling of items bought from proceeds is only the tip of the iceberg and window dressing to make us feel better, because I'm sure on most occasions there will still be bags of money sat around somewhere.
.
.
Personally, I would calculate how much is still missing and then divide this by the daily rate earned whilst working in prison, giving an effectiove sentence that way.
.
.
The current sanctions and sentences for fraud are not sufficient enough to deter these lowlifes who see it merely as a career hazard and one which they are happy to take on the chin if the rewards are big enough (which they often are).
Yea true, they will come out of prison and live comfortably on their ill gotten gains which they scammed off honest parents trying to give their kids a treat.
[quote][p][bold]The Watcher[/bold] wrote: You could confiscate all of their assets (but they would have already transferred any to siblings, spouses, families or companies where they can't be touched). . . You could fine them (but the court will just accept they will be unable to pay them due to having no funds). . . On this occasion, even if they do get some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure, then I'm afraid crime will have paid (as they will walk free to bags of money under the floorboards). . . I have never been confident that the courts have been able to sentence sufficiently for fraud cases, nor be able to sufficiently recover any monies "earned". . . The selling of items bought from proceeds is only the tip of the iceberg and window dressing to make us feel better, because I'm sure on most occasions there will still be bags of money sat around somewhere. . . Personally, I would calculate how much is still missing and then divide this by the daily rate earned whilst working in prison, giving an effectiove sentence that way. . . The current sanctions and sentences for fraud are not sufficient enough to deter these lowlifes who see it merely as a career hazard and one which they are happy to take on the chin if the rewards are big enough (which they often are).[/p][/quote]Yea true, they will come out of prison and live comfortably on their ill gotten gains which they scammed off honest parents trying to give their kids a treat. BMWDellboy
  • Score: 0

3:32pm Wed 23 Feb 11

StEmmosfire says...

The money will probably be spent on a Big Fat Gypsy wedding.
The money will probably be spent on a Big Fat Gypsy wedding. StEmmosfire
  • Score: 0

8:58pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Linesman says...

StEmmosfire wrote:
The money will probably be spent on a Big Fat Gypsy wedding.
Congratulations!

I didn't realise that you were even engaged!
[quote][p][bold]StEmmosfire[/bold] wrote: The money will probably be spent on a Big Fat Gypsy wedding.[/p][/quote]Congratulations! I didn't realise that you were even engaged! Linesman
  • Score: 0

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