Fake barrister listed on genuine chambers website is jailed for defrauding terminally ill woman out of £92,000

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By Thomas Connelly on

He falsely claimed to have a law degree from the University of London

Michael Cremin

A fake barrister whose credentials appeared on a genuine chambers website has been jailed for eight years after conning a terminally ill woman out of her life savings.

Sandra Burch first approached Michael Cremin for legal advice in relation to a real estate deal. Given just 18 months to live following a diagnosis of cancer, the 51-year-old wanted to find a more comfortable property.

Under his barrister guise, Cremin — who had some legal experience having worked on cases as a “paralegal”, according to police — said he could use her £92,000 savings to complete the purchase on her behalf. However the bogus barrister kept the money for himself.

Cremin, 41, also duped several other unsuspecting members of the public and used the cash to fund a fleet of 14 cars worth £330,000. He was jailed for eight years at Bristol Crown Court this week after being convicted of six counts of fraud and one of pretending to be a barrister.

Michael Cremin’s profile on Cotswold Barristers website recovered from the Google cache

Incredibly, his qualifications — which included a law degree from the University of London — appeared to be the real deal as he was listed as a “lawyer/advocate” on the website of a genuine chambers in Cheltenham (pictured above). A spokesperson from the Gloucestershire Constabulary told Legal Cheek:

Cremin featured on the Cotswold Barristers website but has now been taken off. His profile on the website claimed he had a law degree from the University of London but he didn’t.

Cotswold Barristers’ website says it covers areas of law including commercial litigation, property and fraud on a direct access basis. A spokesperson for the set told us:

Cotswold Barristers wish to make it clear that Cremin was never presented as a barrister by this practice. We co-operated fully with the police investigation, and gave evidence for the prosecution in the trial which led to his convictions. Sandra Burch was never a client of this practice, nor did she pay any fees or client funds to this practice. Barristers never handle client money.

The conviction for impersonating a barrister was not related to Cremin’s name appearing on Cotswold’s website.

Commenting on the unusual case, Detective Sergeant Dave Fryatt of Gloucestershire Police, said: “Cremin was what you might call a ‘paralegal’ — he wasn’t a barrister or solicitor but had taught himself a lot about the law and was involved in the legal system. Continuing, he said:

The problem is he over-egged his position and introduced letters after his name suggesting he was a doctor of law. He then never sought to correct anyone who believed he was a genuine solicitor or barrister.

The Bar Standards Board declined to comment on the case.

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