A fraud victim left suicidal after losing his life savings to a £14.5 million Ponzi-style scheme today told how he “pulled himself back from the brink” so he could watch the conman face justice.
Leon Winsky walked from his Wembley home to South Kenton station where he planned to throw himself in front of a train after discovering he had been swindled out of £300,000 by wealth manager Freddy David.
But the 70-year-old, one of 55 victims targeted by David in a string of frauds dating back to 2003, changed his mind at the last minute to ensure he could see justice done.
David, 49, now said to be “public enemy No 1” in his north LondonJewish community, was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to fraud and obtaining money by deception at Southwark crown court.
Mr Winsky, who started work aged 14, described how his “first thought was suicide” when police broke the news of his financial loss to him in November.
He told the Standard: “I realised what a struggle it would be to put food on the table. I thought I’d let my family down.
“I went to South Kenton station. I planned it ahead, I was going to do myself in.
“I was standing on the edge of the platform. It would have been easy, but I held myself back.
“I thought I needed to give my side of the story of what he had done to my family to the police, otherwise David could have got off scot free. It took a lot of courage.”
Mr Winsky, who attended court to see David jailed, said: “I was staring at him but he wasn’t staring back. He didn’t want to look at anyone at all.”
Gambling addict David sold fictitious high-interest accounts to mainly elderly clients, with the biggest victim investing £871,000.
The court heard how his actions had “the flavour of a Ponzi scheme” and left victims suffering sleepless nights, with one describing her ordeal as “financial and emotional rape”.
Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting, said the fraudster blew £15 million on gambling over 14 years.
He would also transfer clients’ money into his personal account, with one investor’s £80,000 going towards buying a restaurant, paying school fees and for overseas trips.
Mr Winsky, a former book-keeper who lives with his wife and 29-year-old disabled son Johnathan, invested with David after retiring at 66.
He believed his £300,000 had been put into RBS and Barclays bonds to earn him up to 4 per cent interest.
The money, “which took me 52 years to save”, was to buy a flat for his son.
Mr Winsky, who is now looking for work, said David “destroyed my family … we may have to sell the house where we raised our son. All I can do is pray.”