THEY preyed on their elderly victims – betraying their trust when they were at their most vulnerable.

Each and every one of them put their faith – and hard-earned savings – into Fiona Langdown and Gary Trevett's funeral business, believing they had spared their loved ones the heartache and burden of making arrangements and paying for their funeral when they had gone.

But the pair were in fact behind a wicked scam that fleeced their nine unsuspecting victims of almost £23,000.

Today the Daily Echo can reveal the full extent of their cruel con after Langdown was found guilty by a jury of defrauding four victims and handling the stolen cash of another three.

Daily Echo: Fiona Langdown

Her partner in crime, fraudster Trevett, had already admitted defrauding all nine people – including his friend, who was deteriorating fast with dementia.

Daily Echo: Gary Trevett

Southampton Crown Court heard how the heartless scam was uncovered when former employee Linda Connolly started looking through the accounts at Langdown and Trevett Independent Funeral Directors having taken over the failing business in July 2012.

One by one, customers got the devastating call to say their money had gone, while some were left to find out for themselves having pestered the pair for months.

Investigations revealed that when customers were handing over money to pay into secure funeral trusts, it was instead being pocketed by the business.

The court was told how Langdown and Trevett became equal partners in the undertakers business, based in Woolston, in April 2005.

Langdown, with her then husband, put in the money while Trevett brought in his experience as an undertaker.

But she divorced and went on to marry Trevett in 2012, and together they sold pre-paid funeral plans on the basis that the customer’s money would be placed securely into one of two trust funds.

However the court heard how for some customers, their money was siphoned off to save the couple’s failing business.

The principal fraudster was Trevett, who would befriend customers and spend hours helping them plan the finer details of their funerals.

Many of them described him as a charmer who they felt they could trust and described being left feeling gullible and angry having fallen for his lies.

Meanwhile Langdown provided literature to some of the customers and helped Trevett retain some of the money, by receiving it into their bank account and concealing the fact it was never paid into the trust fund.

Giving evidence, Langdown denied any knowledge of her husband “conning” people – but jurors didn’t believe her. She was cleared of charges relating to two victims.

The court heard Langdown did pay back some of the money, but most of the victims never saw a penny of it again.

Langdown and Trevett will be sentenced next month.


Daily Echo: Detective Sergeant Ricky Dhanda

IT WAS a painstaking investigation and the first of its kind for Hampshire police and there could still be more victims out there.

Never before has the force seen a case where, those trusted with planning and putting into action people’s final wishes for their funerals, have conned and duped the elderly into handing over their hard saved cash.

Building the case against Gary Trevett and Fiona Langdown spanned two years, involving hundreds of hours of police work as officers.

But it’s been worth said Detective Sergeant Ricky Dhanda, who, along with his team, has been determined to get justice for the victims.

He said: “Trevett and Langdown preyed on their victims when they were at their most vulnerable, betraying the trust of the elderly who had so carefully saved and planned for when they were no longer here, to spare their own loved ones the heartache.

“We have worked diligently for the victims because I think about my grandparents and how I would feel if this had been done to them.

“The manner in which their trust was manipulated for financial gain is a sickening thought.

“A lot of the victims felt humiliated and embarrassed and for me, that gave me the impetus and momentum to take on the fight.”

Det Sgt Dhanda said he believed there may still be customers who are not aware they have fallen victim to Langdown and Trevett and urged anyone who has done business with them to check.

Daily Echo: Kathleen and John Crook

IT WAS the last of the money left to her by her late mother and she wanted to put it to good use and ensure that her husband John had the funeral he deserves, should the worst happen.

But instead she has been left penniless and on anti-depressants due to Trevett’s betrayal.

The 74-year-old from Netley Abbey chose the funeral plan firm in December 2011 as she was keen to use a local business. She paid them £2,485.

When she started questioning the plan Trevett reassured her, even kissing her on the cheek, but soon the devastating truth was revealed – all the money was gone.

“I am a bit gullible”, she said. “But I am an old lady and I just didn’t think anyone could do something like this. He seemed such a nice little man. I really trusted him.”

Trevett admitted the fraud while Langdown was found guilty of handling the money he had defrauded from Mrs Crook.

She added: “I’m absolutely devastated and feel so betrayed. All that I had is gone. It is such a wicked thing to do. For me justice will never be done because I won’t get my money back.”

Daily Echo: Frank De Cicco

HIS DAD was a frail old man, whose health was deteriorating fast due to dementia.

But even that didn’t stop Trevett stealing more than £3,000 from Frank De Cicco, whose 89-year-old dad Joe, regarded him as a friend.

Joe would often stop by the undertakers in his mobility scooter and have long chats with him – unaware that Trvevett had conned him and his son out of the £3,400 he thought he had paid into a funeral plan.

Fortunately, Mr De Cicco never knew of the sickening betrayal - his son Frank shielded him from the devastating truth.

Frank, 60, told how after his mother’s death, the family decided to get organised and put a funeral plan in place for their dad with Langdown and Trevett, who had done his mother’s funeral without fault.

In August 2010 Frank paid out £3,400 on behalf of his dad for his funeral trust , only to later learn that it didn’t exist.

Trevett initially denied any problems but the harsh truth came out in October 2012.

Frank said: “We never told my father about the money because we knew that he would have been devastated by it all - knowing a man he regarded as his friend had betrayed him.

“Having to think about a funeral bad is enough as it is, but for someone to do that to you, when you think they are your friend, it’s disgusting.

“You cannot get lower than what he has done.”

The family did receive some money back from Langdown, who was cleared of charges relating to the De Cicco family.

Daily Echo: David Hall

AFTER suffering a heart attack, David Hall wanted to get organised so his family wouldn’t have to worry about his funeral.

But sadly his last few months alive were spent worrying about the £2,485 he lost after buying a funeral plan with Langdown and Trevett in March 2012 that never existed.

The 68-year-old retired businessman from Woolston had saved up for months but had to start all over again after finding his money had gone.

Trevett admitted defrauding Mr Hall, who died of a further heart attack a year after the shocking discovery.

Langdown was found guilty of handling the stolen cash.

His son Richard, 30, from Sholing, said: “They deceived my dad and you wouldn’t wish that on anyone, especially when he was so vulnerable. They abused the trust of other people. It is disgusting.”

The other victims

Brenda Farr, 87, from Whiteley, lost £2,279. Trevett admitted fraud and Langdown found guilty.

Katherine Kelly, 77, from Southampton, lost £2,500, but Langdown paid the money back. Trevett admitted the fraud and Langdown was found guilty of handling the stolen cash.

John Hickman, 82 and his wife Thelma, 83, from Netley Abbey, lost £4,800. Trevett admitted to the fraud and Langdown was found guilty of defrauding the couple.

Roger Wonnacott, 68, from Woolston, lost £2,395. Trevett admitted fraud while Langdown was found guilty of fraud.

Beryl Allen, 79, from Thornhill, lost £2,600. Trevett admitted fraud but Langdown was cleared.

Do you fear you or a loved one may have fallen victim to Langdown and Trevett?

Call our crime reporter Melanie Adams on 02380 424 500 or email