A National Lottery winner faked his way to a £2.5million prize with the help of a Camelot insider who went on to commit suicide, a court heard today.
Builder Edward Putman, 54, is accused of fraud by false representation after allegedly claiming an outstanding jackpot with a counterfeit ticket on August 28 2009 – just 10 days before the 180-day limit to claim prizes was due to expire.
Putman, of Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, is said to have conspired with friend Giles Knibbs – who worked in the securities department at Camelot – to submit a damaged fake ticket which had been produced with ‘some trial and error’, St Albans Crown Court was told.
Jurors heard that after cashing in the prize, Mr Knibbs felt aggrieved he did not receive his fair share from Putman, and confronted the defendant six years later in June 2015.
Edward Putman, 54, (pictured before his Lotto win, left) claimed the jackpot on 28 August 2009 – just 10 days before the prize ticket from 11 March was due to expire. He is pictured (right) outside court yesterday
Putman complained to police and Mr Knibbs was subsequently arrested for burglary, blackmail and criminal damage. Mr Knibbs killed himself in October that year having previously told friends he was ‘going down for 10-15 years for fraud’, the court was told.
It was only after the suicide, the prosecution claim, that the alleged fraud came to light.
Pictured: Giles Knibbs who killed himself in 2015. He was accused of blackmail earlier that year
The court heard Mr Knibbs had worked for Camelot for six years, giving him access to vital information that gave him the opportunity to create the false ticket – ‘the false ticket that he gave to the defendant to cash in,’ prosecutor James Keeley said.
The real winning ticket was purchased at a Co-op store in Worcester but it was never submitted,’ he added.
At the start of the trial, Judge Philip Grey told the jury: ‘The allegation is a fraud on the National Lottery.
‘The prosecution say the defendant won a significant sum of money by means of a forged lottery ticket. The defendant says the ticket was genuine and honest.’
Prosecuting, Mr Keeley said: ‘The prosecution ask you to keep your eye on the ball, in that the clear picture that comes out from what Mr Knibbs told his friends is that a fraud took place and both he and the defendant were involved in it.’
He said the National Lottery jackpot prize draw on 11 March 2009 remained unclaimed. However on 28 August 2009, 170 days after the draw and just 10 days before the winning ticket was due to expire, Putman called Camelot claiming he held the winning ticket.
Pictured: Edward Putman’s home in Kings Langsley, Hertfordshire
Mr Keeley said the ticket submitted by the defendant was badly damaged, but on September 8, Camelot decided he was the genuine winner and paid out.
The court was then told Mr Knibbs had been working late one night during his time at Camelot when he saw a document being printed, containing details of big wins which had not yet been claimed.
Mr Keeley said a unique ‘checksum’ number was not stored on Camelot’s system, but Knibbs could not have had access to it. It contained two digits and there were a hundred possible different combinations.
Mr Keeley told the court several different ticket specimens were made, each with one of the 100 different possible unique codes on the bottom.
‘Knibbs told a friend that in order to get the Checksum number, he made 100 tickets with every combination,’ the prosecutor said.
‘Mr Knibbs explained further that the defendant had to try 29 shops with 29 different tickets before the right Checksum number was found.
‘In effect, what would have occurred was the defendant going into each one of the shops with a different forged ticket and having the full serial number manually entered in to see if it had won.’
Mr Keeley said the defendant eventually submitted the correct code at a shop in High Wycombe, on August 29 2009.
The prosecutor said: ‘He was lying. He did not hold the winning ticket, but a forgery created by Mr Knibbs.
‘The real winning ticket may still be out there, for the real winner has never been identified.’
Evidence suggested Mr Knibbs was paid an initial £280,000 from Putman for his part in the alleged ruse, followed by much smaller increments totalling £50,000, Mr Keeley said.
The court was told Mr Knibbs had told friends that he had ‘conned’ the lottery, and that he had done so with Putman.
Jurors were also told how Mr Knibbs told a friend that a conversation between him and Putman was recorded onto a CD which incriminated them both in the fraud.
The CD, too, has never been found, Mr Keeley said.
Nevertheless, Mr Knibbs was said to be ‘terrified’ in the time leading up to his suicide that details of his involvement in the alleged fraud would emerge.
Putman’s house in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire is pictured
Mr Keeley, referring to testimony from one of Mr Knibbs’ friends, said: ‘Mr Knibbs said that the defendant was telling lies about him and thus wanted to create an alternative story without exposing the lottery fraud. He was very upset about the betrayal by the defendant.’
He told the court the defendant refused to give Mr Knibbs his share of the winnings and after he was arrested for blackmail, he was convinced that he was going to prison.
The prosecutor added that on October 2 2015, Mr Knibbs went for a walk with a friend before his plan to attend a police station in respect of the allegations, on October 8. It was then that Mr Knibbs confessed the lottery fraud.
The police investigation was initially opened in 2015 after Mr Knibbs’ suicide, but closed when Camelot was unable to locate the alleged forgery.
The case was then re-opened in 2017 when the ticket was eventually located by a Camelot employee.
Putman was first arrested for fraud in October 2015.
He initially answered ‘no comment’, but gave a prepared statement in September 2018 in which he said he was ‘a genuine winner’, Mr Keeley said.
Putman, of Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, denies fraud. The case continues.