DISTRAUGHT Gary Knight is desperately trying to claim back £4,300 from a convicted fraudster.
The 63-year-old bought memorabilia from Steve Pearson, believing it was signed by Muhammad Ali and Queen’s Freddie Mercury.
An expert has verified the signatures were fake, Gary says. Pearson avoided jail last year for fraud offences.
But Gary has hit a brick wall trying to claim back the cash as he’s been told by the county court that Pearson’s home in Chatsworth Avenue, Cosham is ‘inaccessible’.
The court wrote to Gary saying his claim is still viewed as served on Pearson. But he fears it won’t go anywhere and is appealing for help in finding out where the fraudster is.
‘I want to try to get my money back off him,’ Gary told The News.
‘I just feel sick because I’ve been taken in by it. I’m in a very bad financial situation.’
Gary, who has paid £205 to submit his claim, added: ‘I’ve hit a brick wall completely.
‘I need to know where he is because I’ve got a case going on. It was a massive kick in the teeth when I got the letter back.
‘I need someone to help me to find out where he is.’
Last October Portsmouth Crown Court heard Pearson, 52, ran a ‘production line’ of collectors’ items after buying cheap football shirts and photos of sporting icons from eBay before adding forged signatures of the celebrities.
The court heard Pearson’s celebrity pals included former England goalkeeper David James, but now many no longer speak to him after he tricked people out of thousands of pounds.
Pearson pleaded guilty to nine offences of fraud by false representation, four offences of having an article for use in fraud and three thefts. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail suspended for two years.
Gary said Pearson sold him the items prior to the court case taking place.
In court, Pearson was described by his counsel as a ‘son’ of Portsmouth.
Michael Shaw, prosecuting at the time, said: ‘He engaged in the wholesale production and sale of counterfeit signed memorabilia of various sorts.
‘He in effect ran a production line producing items and photographs – one would be sold and another one would be created.’