Crooked party leader with ties to Bideford was a serial conman

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A confidence trickster founded his own political party in Bideford and stood for election on a platform of ‘honesty and transparency’ while swindling companies out of thousands of pounds. 

Timothy Ahlbeck set up a string of companies and claimed to be a duke, lord or doctor while in reality he was an undischarged bankrupt and banned from running any business. 

He fleeced creditors by filing false returns which showed he had assets of £200,000 when he was penniless and trying to run a market stall in Newton Abbot. 

He registered The People’s Party UK ltd as the name of one of his companies and stood as an Independent in Torbay’s local elections in 2019. 

He was forced to pull out after local media exposed him as being a serial conman who has served a string of jail terms for fraud under his previous names of Timothy Skelding and Miles Prestland-Windsor. 

His election literature said: his campaign said: “Honesty and Transparency are of the utmost importance to me.” 

Ahlbeck set up 16 companies while disqualified from being a director. They claimed to be involved in telecoms, pet and horse care, perfume, gold bullion, courier or utility services. 

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The People’s Party and several other firms were based in Mill Street, Bideford but he also used addresses in Torbay, London and Manchester. 

Ahlbeck, aged 37, now High Street, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, admitted two counts of fraud and 16 of acting as a director while disqualified. 

He was jailed for two years, suspended for two years and ordered to do a thinking skills course and receive 30 days supervision by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court. 

He told him: “Over the 19 years of your adult life, you have been living in a form of escapist fantasy world, what some may call a Walter Mitty existence, in which you have repeatedly set up companies, more recently while disqualified. 

“There has been fraudulent paperwork and completely invented facts and figures and capital which has just come from the top of your head. 

Miss Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said Ahlbeck was disqualified from being a director for 15 years in 2016 after one of his previous convictions but started running a string of companies from October 2017 onwards. 

He succeeded in getting credit from a variety of suppliers and the two frauds involved £20,315.94 from Staples for office equipment, laptop and phones, and a car leasing firm for £6,479. 

He supplied false bank account details and claimed to have £200,000 capital, £240,000 a year turnover and ten employees. 

Other businesses which supplied goods or services to his companies were left out of pocket to the tune of around £70,000. Many were small firms which were badly hit by the losses. 

Ahlbeck has six previous convictions for fraud and has served five prison terms since 2002. 

Miss Mary McCarthy, defending, said Ahlbeck’s offending is the result of a personality disorder and other psychological problems arising out of an abusive childhood. 

She said the full diagnosis and proper treatment have only been achieved since these set of offences finished in 2019. 

He is now living near Wolverhampton and receiving the help he needs to rebuild his life and stay out of trouble.

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