Many of us have a simple dream of winning the lottery and having all our financial woes taken care of. For most, that’s all it will ever be – a dream.
Imagine turning your dream into a full-blown lie – and imagine the consequences. Does it seem too far-fetched to be true? Here’s the story of Howard Walmsley, the lottery liar.
He was someone who turned a dream into a nightmare and dragged his loved ones along with him.
His real-life story will have you on the edge of your seat.
£8.4 Million Win – Too Good To Be True
It all started with a little fib. Howard Walmsley told his wife he’d won a few quid after playing the National Lottery. He and his wife were struggling to make ends meet even though they were working. Debt collectors were coming round to the house and there wasn’t a hope of being able to pay them anything.
Howard’s wife Kathy believed the lie, but before long, Howard was bragging he’d actually won £8,904,558. Over the next few months, he conned, lied, and bragged his way through a series of completely audacious gambles to keep the lie going.
At his eventual trial, the court heard that Walmsley, who had actually been jailed twice before for deception, began the fantasy when his business ran into trouble.
Saving His Marriage
Walmsley claimed that he’d made the story up to save his failing marriage, which had been struggling for some time. The painter and decorator succeeded in keeping their love alive and felt that he’d saved his relationship with the lie as he could provide Kathy with everything she’d ever wanted. The truth was, it was all a con – and she wasn’t the only one who’d fallen victim to his lies.
His other victims included banks and businesses as well as two other women who fell for his charms and eventually also loaned him money. These “temporary” close relationships were forged on the understanding that the women would lend him money and he would then repay it – however, this never happened. When Walmsley’s marriage was on the rocks he spoke about buying a love nest with one of the women and it led to her giving him £8,000.
He also ran up thousands of pounds of credit with businesses, that supplied materials for his work and repeatedly wrote cheques to them, which – not surprisingly, all bounced.
Walmsley tried to further impress his wife Kathy by revealing his intention to buy a 17th-century £300,000 farmhouse in Derbyshire, where they hailed from. He commissioned an architect to draw up plans for a huge extension to the property, which included four garages and a swimming pool. After this was done and the sale had ostensibly gone through, he put £293,000 into his solicitor’s account using a cheque he knew would bounce. It did and the deal fell through.
He also walked into a Jaguar showroom in Doncaster with his wife, letting it slip to the salesman, he had won £4 million on the lottery. The car salesman bought the lie and Walmsley wrote cheques totaling £123,000 for three expensive cars – again, he never got to drive them as the cheques bounced for these too.
With so many debts and bouncing cheques, Walmsley was finally caught and arrested in 1999.
Wife Pleads with Judge
On trial, the prosecuting barrister Paul Watson commented that Walmsley had used forged documents to open numerous bank accounts with overdraft facilities.
Walmsley told police he had won £8.4 million on the lottery, before admitting it was all untrue before also admitting twelve different offenses of deception and one of false accounting.
At the time, his wife Kathy wrote to the court and tried to help, by pleading for mercy on her husband’s behalf, saying that he had acted in the best interests of their relationship and had committed the offenses he had to keep them together.
The Judge saw the story in a different light and commented that his two-year trail of trickery was not motivated purely by love. “I take the view you lived in a fantasy world”, she said at Sheffield Crown Court at the summing up of his trial. “You wanted to aspire to the high life, to appear successful. You conned your victims. But you can’t con this court” She also added that Walmsley “ran his life on lies and deceit” for a very long time before he was caught.
Barrister for the defense Andrew Hatton said Walmsley who had one child with his wife had only made the story up because he was trying to save his shattered marriage and gain some respect. However, he and his client both acknowledged they had gone about it in the wrong way and had ended up causing more problems in the long run.
2004 TV Drama Made about the Story
After the trial had gripped the nation, millions of viewers tuned in to watch a dramatic recreation of the event made for UK TV by the ITV network. ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, was a film made about Walmsley’s story. It starred Former soap stars Martin Kemp and Michelle Collins playing a married couple who were brought together and torn apart by a lottery lie.
After the Conviction
In the intervening years after his trial, conviction, and jail sentence, life remained complicated for Walmsley.
Despite being taken back by his wife, he turned to the internet to find solace, posing as a lonely heart on an internet dating site.
Since his release, a divorced mother of two has come forward to say she’d been approached by Walmsley and was eventually romanced and bedded by him. Louise Trinder, aged 38, and hailing from East Sussex thought she too had “hit the jackpot” when she met Walmsley.
However, after a short fling, she discovered he was the convicted lottery conman who was described at his trial as being “a man who lived in a fantasy world.”
In an interview with the media after his release, he told everyone how happy he was: “We have got over it and got back on our feet. I am very lucky. Kathy could see the reason why I did it. When you love someone so much you would do anything. Kathy is definitely the woman for me.”
But then he was discovered looking for romance on the LoopyLove online dating service. He said he was divorced and earned up to seventy-five thousand pounds a year. He encouraged women with the line “If you are a lady and can enjoy life to the full, drop me a line and let’s grow old together.”
Little is known of what happened to Walmsley after his last misdemeanor, but it goes to show how a lie can spin out of control and ruin, not just the perpetrator’s life, but that of those around them too.