Fraudster left victims homeless after stealing 'everything he could'

Raymond McDonald.
Raymond McDonald.

A fraudster who "stole everything he could" from a host of victims to fund his lavish lifestyle is behind bars.

Raymond McDonald, 43, from Thornley, County Durham, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after being convicted of fraud by false representation.

McDonald posed as a high-flying property developer before defrauding a number of people out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Some of his victims lost their possessions and their homes, with McDonald using the money to pay for holidays and gambling trips.

McDonald was convicted at Teesside Crown Court on December 15.

Northumbria Police detective constable David Laybourne said: "McDonald targeted vulnerable women who had allowed themselves to trust him in the belief they would be sharing a future together.

"Instead, he has stolen everything he could from them, leaving a trail of financial and emotional devastation in his wake.

"This sentence demonstrates the Court’s willingness to punish those who target vulnerable people and the determination of Northumbria to co-operate with other forces to bring them to justice.”

Judge Stephen Ashurst had said during sentencing: "McDonald is a gutless man, without shame, as his refusal to appear before me demonstrates.

"He is a serial fraudster who lives in a different world to the rest of us when it comes to honesty and the impact our actions have on others.

"These offences were predatory and premeditated against women who were vulnerable due to recent divorce or loss of their partner.

"Each suffered tremendously, and I am satisfied Mr McDonald's behaviour has genuinely ruined lives."

McDonald left victims in the Durham, Cleveland, Newcastle and Northumberland areas.

In April 2016, Northumbria Police officers received a report of fraud from a victim in Newcastle, which led them to investigate McDonald, and he was arrested.

In November 2016, he was charged with fraud.