A Glasgow man, who is serving a life sentence for murdering a woman while he was dressed in drag, was today found guilty of embezzlement for pretending to be his former spouse in order to steal almost £120,000.
Craig Coates, 46, was given a confiscation order at the High Court in Edinburgh this morning and instructed to pay back the £119,967.34 that he had acquired by signing documents in his ex-wife’s name.
Coates embarked upon a campaign of extortion from 25th May 2006 for several years of what Lord Pentland described as “a criminal lifestyle”.
In a statement delivered during the trial, Coates’ ex-wife Angela Witherspoon accused him of “committing fraud” and claimed that “her signature was forged” in mortgage documentation.
A forensic accountant said that Coates had the names on mortgages for properties, including a residential address on Elizabeth Street in Glasgow that the couple owned together, switched into his sole name. A hand-writing expert also confirmed that her signature was falsified.
Coates then choreographed a string of sources through which he paid amounts into his own bank accounts, including a company that operated as a front and an account in the name of a John Wilson.
During the trial, Coates, representing himself, argued that he had been “treated unjustly” in not being provided with proper disclosure of the charge, and that, in not appearing in person, Ms. Witherspoon’s evidence should be thrown out. He also claimed that he had been unable to call witnesses and that, as such, his human rights had been breached, citing Article 6 of the EU Human Rights Act.
Lord Pentland, however, rejected these claims and ordered Coates to pay an initial, nominal amount of £1.
Coates was convicted of abducting, torturing and killing 27-year-old Lynda Spence in 2011 and is currently serving a minimum of 33 years in jail.
(Image: Ian McNally 2017)