'Walter Mitty character' Phillip Buffett from Croydon who tricked Harrods out of £216,000 watch pilloried by judge

This Is Local London: Philip Buffett when known as Mark Cas pictured outside Croydon Crown Court Philip Buffett when known as Mark Cas pictured outside Croydon Crown Court

A judge sentencing a "fantasy fraudster" for duping Harrods out of a £200,000 watch pilloried him for wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt in the dock and asked "what's wrong with M&S?"

Phillip Buffett, of Fairfield Road, Croydon, wanted people to think he was a high-flying businessman but was told by the outspoken judge: "You are neither rich nor successful”.

“Your 48 (previous) convictions show me you are completely unsuccessful in all that you do."

Judge Simon Oliver had earlier heard how Buffett used a cheque from a closed bank account to leave the world-famous Knightsbridge store with the £216,000 pounds Hublot timepiece.

He also stole a second watch, a camera and clothing worth a further £28,000 pounds.

The 49-year-old admitted the offence and a further six frauds against businesses and individuals, totalling another £119,000 pounds.

He also admitted as breaching a ban on acting as a company director.

In the past he had fleeced elite British athletes with the promise of lucrative sponsorship contracts in the build up to the London Olympics in 2012.

Judge Oliver told him today: "How you ever thought you could buy a watch worth £216,000 pounds stuns me.

"Why anybody would want a watch worth £216,000 pounds also stuns me."

He added: "I don't wear a watch, and haven't for 30 or 40 years. I don't need one."

Buffett had carried out the fraud on April 20 last year by using a personal shopper service offered by the world famous department store in Knightsbridge.

Tim Starkey, prosecuting, told Reading Crown Court the other offences, committed between January and May last year, involved cheating companies out of goods and services and also defrauding two men who had applied to Buffett for work.

One of the firms, Alford Technologies, which is a market leader in counter-explosive and IED (improvised explosive device) products and training, was conned out of more than £27,000 pounds.

In another fraud the defendant tried to get a luxury package to watch the Monaco Grand Prix, including hospitality on the Mercedes F1 yacht.

All of the offences were committed through a number of firms set up by Buffett under the umbrella of Über Intelligence - in breach of a seven-year company directorship ban imposed on him at Croydon Crown Court in 2011 after similar frauds.

The conman, who had previously used the names Mark Cas and Mark Castley, was able to get around the prohibition by changing his name by deed poll.

In mitigation John Lyons said: "He doesn't want to appear before the court.

"He tells me he wants to mend his ways.

"Whether or not that is true is something I can only hope."

Judge Oliver told Buffett: "I've got a psychologist's report on you and it talks about you as a man who thinks it may be important to be perceived as important, successful and wealthy.

"Your behaviour has all the hallmarks of a Walter Mitty character.

"In the fantasy world in which you live you think you are rich, you think you are successful.”

The judge attacked Buffett for wanting to "flash the cash" and even criticised the clothing the defendant was wearing in court - a red Ralph Lauren polo shirt.

"What's wrong with M&S?" he asked.

He said sending Buffett to prison had not worked in the past and said it was a waste of state funds.

Instead he passed a two-year prison sentence but suspended it for two years.

He also ordered Buffett to carry out 200 hours of community work, to be placed under a supervision order for two years, and to pay the victim surcharge of £120 pounds.

In addition he imposed a further directorship ban, to last for 10 years.

The watch was recovered but was said to be at the centre of a battle between Harrods and Borro, a short term loans company which had given him a loan of £77,000 secured against the watch.


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