Pensioner’s infatuation lands him in prison for five years

TIA MEHARI
TIA MEHARI

A PENSIONER and former Rotary Club president duped his lover out of £160 000 (R3.5million) so he could fund the aspiring singing career of his 27-year-old girlfriend.

Peter Lawrence, 78, left 80-year-old Sheila Losack, a retired civil servant with whom he enjoyed a 20-year relationship, in financial ruin after plundering her savings to send to his new love interest.

He sent the money to Swedish aspiring celebrity Tia Mehari, known to Lawrence as “Nefe” after the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

Lawrence broke open Losack’s jewellery box to pawn around 60 items and took another £63 000 (R1.4-million) from the property company which managed her home.

He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment when he appeared in an English court. It was told he continued to send “Nefe” £700 (R15 000) to £1 200 (R26 000) a month from his private pension.

They met in London when the then-19-year-old asked Lawrence for directions.

He invited her for coffee and she revealed her ambitions.

“That moment certainly changed my life,” Lawrence said before he was jailed. “She’s lovely. Have you ever been in love?”

Lawrence had been living with Losack since 2009 and on her recommendation he became a secretary for her company, giving him full access to its bank account.

Lawrence had “a fantasy relationship’’ [with “Nefe”] that was never consummated, but took over his life, his lawyer said.

He continued to be in love with “Nefe”, the lawyer said.

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