An alleged conman faked his way to a multimillion-pound National Lottery win with the help of a Camelot employee who went on to kill himself, a court has heard.
Edward Putman, 54, is accused of fraud by false representation after allegedly claiming an outstanding jackpot of £2.5 million with a counterfeit ticket in 2009.
He is said to have conspired with friend Giles Knibbs – who worked in the securities department at lottery operator Camelot between 2004 and 2010 – to submit a damaged fake ticket to take the jackpot just before the 180-day limit to claim prizes was due to expire, St Albans Crown Court was told.
But jurors heard Mr Knibbs felt aggrieved he did not receive his fair share of the prize from Putman, and confronted the defendant in June 2015.
Mr Knibbs was subsequently arrested for burglary, blackmail and criminal damage after Putman complained to police, and killed himself in October that year having previously told friends he was “going down for 10-15 years for fraud”, the court was told.
Prosecutor James Keeley said the “genuine” winning ticket, which was bought in Worcester, has never been discovered.
He said there was a weight of “compelling evidence” in what Mr Knibbs had allegedly told his friends about the conspiracy before his death, as well as technical inaccuracies about the way the ticket was created – which supported claims Putman was lying about being a legitimate ticket winner.
Mr Keeley said: “The veracity of his (Mr Knibbs’) narrative and thus credibility is strongly supported by the forged ticket which the defendant could not have acquired by legitimate means.”
He added: “The prosecution ask you to consider that there is compelling evidence to show that the defendant is guilty.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the National Lottery used to say: ‘It could be you.’ In respect of the defendant, it never was, and of that you can be sure.”
The court was 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 told the court there was “some trial and error” in producing a successful forged ticket, with several different specimens made, each with one of the 100 different possible unique codes on the bottom.
The court was told that Mr Knibbs claimed Putman went to 29 different shops as the clock ticked down to claim the cash, each providing a different ticket, before the right number was found.
Mr Keeley said the defendant eventually submitted the correct code at a shop in High Wycombe, on August 28, 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.
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.”
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, a 54-year-old builder, of Station Road, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, denies fraud by false representation.
The trial is listed to last for two weeks.