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Thursday, 23 July 2009

Mum Commits Suicide After Falling for Egyptian Conman

From This is Derbyshire:

THE family of a Derbyshire woman who committed suicide after losing £15,000 through her callous ex-lover have insisted: "He killed our mum".

Lynne Pearce drowned herself in the Erewash Canal at Ilkeston, leaving letters from a debt collection agency in her car.

She fell into financial trouble after investing cash with partner Abdelsalam Mohammed Hassan in a business to import artefacts from his home country of Egypt.

The 50-year-old library manager never saw the money again, the artefacts never materialised and when she asked to see documents and invoices from Hassan he threatened to kill her and daughter Natalie,

Ms Pearce's devastated family believe she would still be alive if she had not met him.

Her son, Liam Parker, said: "We think that he is an animal.

"He persuaded my mum to part with her money and then threatened to kill her and my sister when she asked for it back – we feel that he tormented our mother to death.

"None of us are anywhere near back to normal – that will take a long, long time. Our mother has been snatched away very cruelly by a conman."

Mr Parker was speaking after an inquest into his mother's death in which coroner Dr Robert Hunter said Hassan's threats and his behaviour "temporarily disturbed" the balance of her mind. The coroner recorded a suicide verdict.

Dr Hunter said Hassan, due to be sentenced today for attempting to rape a 14-year-old girl at knifepoint in an unconnected case, was not a credible witness.

The hearing was told by DC Diane Storer, of Ilkeston CID, that officers investigated Ms Pearce's finances after her body was found last August.

It was clear money had been taken from her bank account.

"And from a letter that was found it appeared that it had been put into a business deal with Mr Hassan – to facilitate the import of Egyptian artefacts into the country for sale over here."

Police traced £4,910 to Hassan's mother in Egypt.

But officers could not track down the remaining £10,000 and were unable to secure a conviction against Hassan after the Crown Prosecution Service said there was not enough evidence.

They discovered Hassan's threats when they examined the couple's text messages. They said it was clear the relationship changed around July 2008.

When Ms Pearce failed to get "satisfactory answers", the text messages became "threatening, both to Lynne herself and her family".

The coroner asked: "Threatening to kill?"

DC Storer said: "Yes".

DC Storer said it had been difficult to trace the remaining £10,000 but added: "There were several large cash deposits into his (Hassan's) own personal account during the relative period – but that is only circumstantial."

The court heard that a letter from HM Revenue and Customs about tax and another two from a debt collection agency were found in Ms Pearce's car.

After the inquest, Mr Parker, 28, of Ilkeston, said: "She put a lot of faith in humanity. We realised that she was an adult and could make her own decisions – but we never imagined in our wildest dreams that it could end so tragically."

At the inquest, Ms Pearce's family said she had been "down" in the months before her death.

Hassan told the inquest that he had not entered into a business agreement with Ms Pearce, but said she had expressed an interest in importing artefacts and he helped because she did not speak Arabic.

He said his mother gave the £4,900 sent to her to a shipping company in Egypt for goods Ms Pearce had ordered.

When asked to explain the large amounts deposited into his bank account, he said they had come from his savings and the sale of his car.

"I have no idea where the other £10,000 went," he said.

Dr Hunter said Ms Pearce had a responsible job, her own house and had made an application for a loan to extend her house.

"Ms Pearce invested £15,000 with Mr Hassan, that enterprise never materialised and the goods were never delivered.

"This has resulted in her being in debt.

"Given her social standing and the responsibility of her job I feel this was a factor to her state of mind at the time and may have been a pressure or worry before her death."

No one from Derbyshire CPS was available for comment.

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