Conman convicted of theft


A conman who stole over £1,000 from a victim he had met through an online dating site has today been found guilty in his absence at Dudley Magistrates’ court of theft.

Joshua Bannister, aged 22, had met the victim through a gay online dating site and claimed he was employed as a junior barrister. Within weeks of their meeting, he had moved into the victim's home.

Once he had gained the trust of the victim, Bannister began stealing items from him and later transferred money from the victim's online savings account into his own bank account.

Within three months of meeting the victim, the defendant had stolen a Vivienne Westwood necklace, valued at £270, petty cash of £130 from the victim's house and a total of £1,170 from his bank.

As soon as the thefts were discovered, the victim notified the police who arrested Bannister. Their investigation revealed that the defendant was not a junior barrister but he was actually unemployed and claiming benefits.

Bannister was subsequently charged with four counts of theft.

An arrest warrant has now been issued by the court.

Helen Whitehead, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"Joshua Bannister is a confidence trickster who used online dating sites in order to identify victims from the gay community from who he could steal from.

"Once a victim had been targeted, he would proceed to spin extravagant lies to them so that he could extort money from them and their families.

"Before the thefts could be discovered, Bannister would disappear from the crime scene and move onto his next victim. 

"We are unsure how many victims he has targeted and stolen from, but following today's conviction, we would encourage anybody who may have been conned by Bannister to report it to the police so that we can ensure that he is held accountable for his criminal behaviour."