An architect who conned a Cumbrian family into paying £6,500 for work he had not done has been sent to prison for nearly four years.

Richard Lindsay, of Calva Brow, Workington, pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud and four of forgery.

Prosecuting counsel Rob Dudley told Carlisle Crown Court this week that the case arose from Lindsay’s dealings with Whitehaven property developer Bill Glasson, who bought land in the hope of selling it on at a profit after obtaining planning permission.

Glasson hired Lindsay in 2002, and he tried unsuccessfully to obtain planning permission for a site in Whitehaven.

But in June 2007 Glasson received letters, apparently from Copeland Borough Council officers, suggesting it might be possible to develop the sitea after all.

Glasson took the letters as genuine and, after Lindsay told them he had found a buyer willing o pay £600,000 for the plot, spent more than £1,500 on solicitor’s fees.

It was only after Glasson died in 2009 that his family learned that the letters had all been forged by Lindsay. They also learned that Lindsay had charged them around £6,500 for the work he claimed to have done on the project.

Lindsay told the police after his arrest: “I have a serious personality defect in that I like telling people what they want to hear.”

He claimed he had forged the council letters because he wanted to give Mr Glasson “comfort”.

The court heard that in 1998 Lindsay became the first architect to be struck off by the Arb for misconduct following a botched loft conversion which left his client with an unsafe structure and a repair bill for £50,000.

Lindsay also had two previous convictions: for false accounting in 1996, and for forgery in 2006.