West Midlands police were alerted to the activities of jailed financier Gary Hexley by desperate investors 18 months before he was finally arrested, it was revealed today.
Walmley-based pensioners Gerry and Mary Lamming, who had lost thousands of pounds of their savings, met detectives from the regional economic crime unit in May 2010 to discuss their fight for justice.
But they say their complaints fell on deaf ears – and gave up pressing the police for action.
Publicity in the Birmingham Post and Mail newspapers eventually led to a Financial Services Authority investigation and the arrest of Hexley and co-defendant John Cooper in November 2011.
Last week Judge Michael Chambers QC jailed the pair after a five-week trial. Hexley, 51, and Cooper, 56, had been found guilty of six charges and two charges respectively under the Financial Services and Markets Act. Hexley was jailed for two years and Cooper for nine months.
Mr Lamming, 78, who fought for over five years for compensation after facing the loss of a five-figure sum, said: “We went to a meeting with the police but were not happy about what went on. They said they wanted to come and see us and they met with us on July 16 at our house – it was a complete waste of time.”
The Birmingham Post obtained a copy of a letter written by the Lammings to West Midlands Police economic crime unit following the meeting.
The letter says: “We have been attempting to regain our money from Hexley for over two and a half years by any means that we can think of, but only on our own, not in association with any one else.
“It is obvious that we have gone to great lengths to force Hexley to pay up, but to no avail. Even “reporting” him to the FSA and using the services of a solicitor, with the issuing of a Final Demand and the threat of winding up procedures, only produces empty promises.
“Hexley has never denied that the money is owing, or disputed the figures, but he will not pay up. To us this smacks of misappropriation of funds, or theft, or embezzlement and we fail to understand why the police cannot see it in the same light.
“We know we are not the only people being ripped off in this way – something has to be done to stop this.”
The letter says that police told the Lammings that there had been no evidence of criminal activities by Hexley.
“We were advised in an unofficial way that the best thing we could do was to go and make ourselves a nuisance to Hexley. This advice could be regarded as patronising – what on earth did he think we had been doing for the last two and a half years? Was he suggesting that we send round men with baseball bats?
“Please regard this letter as a plea for you to regard this as a matter of great concern and urgency, not just a moan about the meeting – it involves a great deal of money overall, we are pensioners who can ill afford to lose our contribution and want to see Mr Hexley stopped from living a life of luxury at our, collective expense.”
Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell, who was also contacted by the Lammings, said in July 2011: “This is a case that I have pursued vigorously with both the FSA and the police on behalf of my constituents who have incurred losses because of investment in Greenfield International.”
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said at that time: “West Midlands Police have carried out a full and thorough investigation into these allegations. There was found to be no evidence of criminality and the matter was passed to the Financial Services Authority for their attention.”
Meanwhile, elderly Midland investors stripped of their life savings by Hexley and Cooper have hit out at the ‘inappropriate’ sentences handed out to the two crooks.
Bill Shackleford, of Hopwas, near Tamworth, who finally won £30,000 compensation after a two-year battle with the FSCS, said: “I think that the judge’s summing up was quite good but the sentence given to Hexley was utterly inappropriate. The judge got that wrong, considering the damage this man has done.
“As far as I am concerned, he should have got at least five years. Two years is not much of a deterrent to anybody else to get up to this sort of thing.”
Mr Lamming said: “We are disappointed with the sentence. The Judge’s description of Hexley’s activities has not been matched by his sentencing.”