A CONMAN boasted about his fake exploits in the British Army to swindle thousands of pounds from a pensioner in a gardening scam.

Walter Brown, 55, walked away with more than £16,000 from victim John Keating after agreeing to carry out a large gardening contract at the man’s home.

Brown conned his way into Mr Keating’s favour by telling him of the many tours of duty he was involved in during the Falklands conflict and the war in Iraq.

Brown even told Mr Keating, 65, he had been forced to quit the military due to suffering from PTSD following an incident in Iraq.

But after landing the gardening contract and being handed thousands of pounds to buy materials, Brown regularly failed to turn up to carry out the landscaping.

The customer then decided to investigate Brown’s background and discovered he had been lied to and the closest the con artist had got to the frontline was as a chef in an Edinburgh TA corp.

The shocked victim called in the police and Brown appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last year to admit fraudulently receiving £16,450 from the pensioner.

Brown, of Whitehill Mains Farm, Musselburgh, was ordered to pay Mr Keating back at a rate of £1,000 per month by Sheriff Kenneth McGowan and he was eventually fined £3,000 at a court hearing last month.

Brown’s picture could not be used until now as a separate case was still considered live until last week.

That complaint was eventually dropped by the Crown, though he has been ordered to pay £1,200 to the 69-year-old woman involved following a civil action.

Now Mr Keating, from Edinburgh, has decided to speak out and warn other potential customers of the conman to be on their guard and not to trust his company.

He said: “After nearly 50 years in the Merchant Navy, I like to think I am a fairly good judge of character but I was completely taken in by Brown.

“He was so believable and his stories of the Falklands and Iraq were very convincing. He mentioned ships I knew had been at the conflicts so I just assumed he was telling the truth.

“He certainly has the gift of the gab and all his army tales were so plausible.

“I was getting my front and back gardens landscaped, it was a big job, and at first I was happy to employ Brown’s company.

“He told me he had just set up an account with a new supplier which would mean cheaper materials and I gladly handed over thousands of pounds to him as a down payment.

“But that is when my problems really began. He continually failed to turn up to do the work and I could never get him on the phone.

“On one occasion, I even turned up at his home to try and get him to get the job done but he was always full of excuses.

“He told me once that his son had been in an accident and was at death’s door and of course I told him not to worry about the garden and to get to the hospital.

“But I soon found out that, and other excuses, were a load of lies.”

Mr Keating added: “I think the biggest lie he told me was that he had to quit the army as he suffered from PTSD after being in Iraq.

“But he told me he loved the military life so much that after leaving the army he then joined the TA – I was very impressed.

“But it turns out he has never even been in the regular army and the tales he told me were all lies. To think I felt sorry for him after those stories really makes me sick to my stomach.”

Brown pleaded guilty to obtaining total loans of £19,050 from John Keating and only completing £3,600 of the work, thus obtaining £16,450 by fraud between December 14, 2016, and October 17, 2017.