Mother’s emotional plea for daughter to leave con man and come home

DE FACTO: Con man Lemuel Page with his partner of 14 years, Newcastle podiatrist Renay Bull.

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SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONThe big talkerLies that lie beneathGem of a tall talePainful lessonTaken to the cleanersDigging for truthCreditors in Greek tragedyWhen fraud hits homeIt’s been an absolute nightmareSince 2003 my children, ex-husband and I embraced Lemuel into our family. We all used to hang out together as families do and enjoyed each other’s company.

I gave him a lot of slack over the years because of his disconnection from his parents when he was very young. He had no real family apart from his grandmother who brought him up and I was fortunate enough to meet before she died. I tried to make him feel loved and part of our immediate and extended family.

I thought that’s what he was searching for, but for the past few years all we have to show for our efforts is enormous stress, anxiety and a deep sense of betrayal.I truly thought we meant something to him.I have not seen Lemuel for almost two years.

My family and I are shattered as we too are victims and feel cheated – financially and/or emotionally. For the past threeyears, and like others, members of my family and friends have heard the same delay tactics and convoluted stories that things are under way with properties being “sold”or “transferred”, “you’ll get your money back, just be patient”.

This initially lulls people into a false sense of hope, not knowing so many others are being told the same story. When legal action has been mentioned by members of my family and friends, Lemuel’s response has been “I’ll drown you in legal fees”. He seems to live in a different reality and speak a different language to everyone else, expecting people to cop it on the chin and walk away.

DAUGHTER: Newcastle podiatrist and bodybuilder Renay Bull.

I’m glad others are speaking out. I know of at least threepartieswho have given up trying to get their money back due to stress or lack of funds to fight it in court. If it wasn’t for our very compassionate solicitor we would not have come this far.

My younger daughter handed over her life savings to Lemuel about threeyears ago as a deposit on one of two units at Robertson Street, Carrington. My son leveraged his business and his and his father’s houses to fund a property purchase through Lemuel threeyears ago. The deals did not proceed and, despite repeated efforts to be reimbursed, that’s the last they have seen of their money.

BETRAYED: Convicted fraudster Lemuel Page at a Bull family Christmas dinner.

My son’s business almost went under and, after years of crippling mortgages, he recently sold his house to save the business from mounting credit card debts and his father’s home. He employs 10 local people who were in danger of losing their jobs, but he has performed nothing short of a miracle to keep his business operating.

My ex-husband and I have supported them as much as we can and are proud that they have clawed their way back to some kind of financial security. It’s taken a heavy emotional toll on them as they were close to their sister, and Lemuel,and don’t understand Renay’s position in all of this.

Early this year, and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t deal with the depression, stress and anxiety this has caused me and my loved ones, and had to ask my doctor for help. She has been a huge support.

My mental and physical health has suffered requiring me to take leave from my workplace. I’ve dealt with some painful curve balls in my life, but this is different. No one saw it coming.I know others are struggling from the same experience and I’d urge them to seek professional help too.

Lemuel is a master of deception and it’s evident now that no one is off limits – including family and friends. He gains people’s trust and, when the time’s right, subtly manipulates them into financially committing to an investment that never goes ahead, with nothing in return. Or fails to pay people who have done work for him in good faith.

Years ago he suggested I use the equity in my house to buy a rental property that he would have been happy to manage for me.A gut feeling told me it was a bad idea so I said no. I also told him that after years of struggling, working twojobs as a single mum, I was proud of what I’d achieved, happy with what I had and just wanted to “smell the roses”.

Years before that he asked my late mother if she wanted to invest in Community Life, but she also said she was happy with her life and what little she had. After events of the past threeyears, and recent publicity, I’m relieved we did not take up the offers.

My family and I are honest, hard-working people with a social conscience and try to “do the right thing”. When we welcomed Lemuel into our family 14 years ago we did not sign up for this.

Mydaughter, Renay, was not brought up to support someone who treats people so badly and I’m at a loss as to why she remains with him. She has distanced herself from her family who too have lost money to Lemuel through deception.

I fear for Renay not knowing her circumstances – how much of Lemuel’s business dealings she has or hasn’t been privy to in the past, whether she has been coerced or had any control of situations people now find themselves in.

She has been with him since she was 23 and perhaps she’s the biggest victim of all.I love and miss her desperately and we just want her to come home.

I have moved on from being angry with Lemuel, but now truly feel sorry for him and people like him. They’ll never know the meaning of “enough”or “family”and forever be chasing a “more expensive view”at the expense of other people’s misery.

For me, seeing my family and loved ones laughing around my dinner table is the most precious view of all. And if I had one question for Lemuel I would ask if he realises, or even cares, that he’s caused so much suffering, ruined people’s plans for the future and damaged their health and relationships. Good people who gave him their trust.