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Man jailed three years for defrauding friends

A serial conman who defrauded his friends of thousands of dollars was jailed for three years yesterday and ordered to make reparations to his victims

Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons said Jonathan Ratteray had multiple chances to change his mind about his schemes but instead relentlessly pursued more money.

And she said he had lost the benefit of a guilty plea by making allegations, rejected by the court, that his victims thought they were investing in criminal activities.

Mrs Justice Simmons told Ratteray: “You used various degrees of coercion and intimidation to scam people over a prolonged period of time.

“You could have come to your senses and stopped your criminality at an earlier point.”

Mrs Justice Simmons added: “You took nothing positive away from your previous convictions and sentences.”

She added that the three years in prison should be followed by two years of probation with a reparations order to come into effect six months after probation begins.

Mrs Justice Simmons added: “It's up to you now, Mr Ratteray.”

Ratteray, 32, from Smith's, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent inducement to invest between November 2017 and January 2019.

He was set to be sentenced on Monday, but the hearing was adjourned after he made scurrilous allegations that his victims believed they were investing in the drug trade.

But at a special “Newton” hearing in the trial yesterday morning, both complainants fiercely denied the allegations and maintained that Ratteray had claimed their investments were above board.

Bryon Sheppard, a former co-worker of Ratteray conned out of more than $26,000, said he was promised his funds would be invested in cryptocurrency through a Hamilton-based underwriter.

And Chae Powell said he was told his $6,650 would be put towards a plan to invest in foreign currency and that he did not believe that Ratteray, a family friend, would defraud him.

Both said they trusted Ratteray, only to lose their entire investments.

Mrs Justice Simmons found that both the victims were consistent, believable and truthful in their evidence. She added: “The courts reject the defence version of facts and will sentence Ratteray based on the Crown's case.”

Larissa Burgess, for the Crown, said Ratteray had attempted to manipulate the court for a more favourable sentence, and in the process he victimised the complainants again.

She added: “The defendant has done nothing more than to show himself as being untrustworthy and now, in his latest stunt, he attempted to con the courts.”

Ms Burgess called for a sentence of between two and three years, along with reparations for the victims, given his history of similar offences. Elizabeth Christopher, for Ratteray, argued a sentence of between 18 months and two years followed by a period of probation would be more suitable.

She also argued against a reparations order, which she said would amount to a “life sentence” for her client. Ms Christopher added the complainants should have expected that any investment comes with a risk.

Mrs Justice Simmons said: “But you don't expect someone like Bernie Madoff. You don't expect someone to give you false reports on earnings.”

Ratteray himself apologised to his victims and the court.

He said: “These people didn't deserve the things I did to them. There is a deep-rooted issue that I need to get sorted out. I'm just asking for some help in that direction. Paying them back ... I don't know how I'm going to come about it, but I will try my best.”

Ratteray was previously sentenced to 18 months behind bars in 2013 after he admitted ten counts of dishonestly obtaining property. He told his victims he would invest the money and guaranteed quick returns, but used the cash to pay his bills and defrauded two victims of $17,000 over a two-month period.

As part of his sentence he was ordered to pay back $13,940 — but still owes more than $10,000.

Ratteray also spent a year in jail for defrauding former cricketer Barry DeCouto of $74,600.

At that time, he told the senior the money would go to a friend who needed help to pay his mother's medical bills.

It is The Royal Gazette's policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

Repeat offender: Jonathan Ratteray (File photograph)

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Published August 15, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated August 15, 2019 at 9:04 am)

Man jailed three years for defrauding friends

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