nigel goldman alias howard del monte in court

Kintbury businessman denies running international gold scam

Jury due to be deliberating today (Tuesday)

John Garvey

Tue, 01 Dec 2015


John Garvey




Kintbury businessman denies running international gold scam

A KINTBURY businessman has denied cheating customers in an international gold scam.

Howard Del Monte – formerly known as Nigel Goldman – used his High Street home as a base for his online operation called Bensons’ Emporium, Reading Crown Court heard.

But he claimed at least some of the gold, which included valuable South African krugerrands worth more than £11,000, simply went missing after village Post Office staff forgot to put stamps on the parcels.

One angry local customer turned up on Mr Del Monte’s doorstep, where a scuffle broke out after he was taunted for being “stupid” in falling for the scam, jurors were told.

That led to PC Claire Drewitt intervening – and to the start of a fraud investigation that led to the trial.

Nicholas Cooper, opening the prosecution case last Monday, said: “Two gentlemen, Lee Cubit and Leon Shepherd, went about purchasing gold coins in 2014.

“Mr Cubit saw an eBay seller called ‘bensonsemporium1517.’”

In March 5 last year, said Mr Cooper, Lee Cubit in Australia enquired about buying gold krugerrands.

He agreed to buy one for £813.30 and the following day asked if there were more available.

Jurors heard Mr Del Monte contacted Mr Cubit and told him his partner had recently inherited some coins and that they had a selection they could sell.

Mr Cooper added: “He was told: ‘Here are my bank details, send me £1,612.’

“You may already be getting there, members of the jury… the coins didn’t materialise.

“Time passed, correspondence was exchanged and a number of assurances were given by the defendant – but nothing was received.”

Around the same time, Mr Shepherd also visited the online Bensons’ Emporium and saw that the seller, who apparently had 5,000 positive reviews, was local to him.

He paid for, and received the coin he wanted, said Mr Cooper and, as a result, enquired about buying more.

Mr Cooper said: “The defendant wrote back saying he was the executor of a large estate with other gold coins to sell.

“But this time, it would be a private sale, not through eBay.

“The point was to avoid eBay fees – at least that’s what he [Mr Shepherd] was told.”

Mr Shepherd opted to buy 40 Elizabeth II sovereign gold coins and two South African krugerrands, together worth £9,250, and transferred the cash to Mr Del Monte’s Lloyds TSB account in Newbury.

Mr Cooper said: “Mr Shepherd was told he could collect his coins from the defendant after payment.

“It didn’t work like that and it seemed to Mr Shepherd he was being put off. Again a series of emails and correspondence was exchanged.”

Eventually Mr Shepherd called a mobile number he found in their correspondence and spoke to Mr Del Monte.

Mr Cooper said: “I foresee that Mr Shepherd is going to tell you that, during that call, he was told that there never were any coins and that anyone who believed in a family trust is just stupid.”

As a result, the jury heard, Mr Shepherd went to Mr Del Monte’s High Street home at 5.30pm and waited for him.

Mr Cooper said: “The defendant arrived by car but then drove away. Eventually, at almost 9pm, he approached Mr Shepherd, who tried to video record the conversation. There was a scuffle and the police were called by the defendant.”

PC Drewitt began investigating the affair and Mr Del Monte was arrested on suspicion of fraud and taken to Newbury police station where he answered “no comment” to police questions, jurors heard.

But Mr Cooper said that, in a subsequent police interview in May last year, Mr Del Monte offered an explanation, at least where Mr Cubit was concerned.

He added: “He said he had an agreement with staff at Kintbury Post Office.

“He would take parcels down there; they would put on the correct postage then contact him for payment.

“On this occasion they had been sent without stamps and got lost – he had acted properly and had done nothing dishonest. We say: ‘On the contrary.’”

The 57-year-old denies three counts of fraud and the jury was due to begin deliberating its verdict today (Tuesday).

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