Conman who stole £1.4million from friends he met in Arsenal community jailed for six years

Marios Demetriou. Picture: Herts Police

Marios Demetriou. Picture: Herts Police - Credit: Archant

A heartless conman exploited his mother’s murder to fleece friends in the Arsenal community out of their life savings.

Marios Demetriou, 51, admitted stealing £1.4million to help fuel his gambling addiction and was jailed for six years at Wood Green Crown Court in May.

He pretended he was suing the NHS and police for failing to care for his mother's mentally ill killer and also told Elizabeth Phillips, the elderly mother of a fellow Gooner, he was seriously ill and needed to fund treatment.

But the married father-of-four was actually blowing the cash on gambling, and - having moved out of Archway a few years earlier - moved to progressively larger homes in Hertfordshire.

Ms Phillips, whose disabled son Greg attended football matches with Demetriou, was left penniless after paying him north of £800,000 between 2013 and 2017. She couldn't even afford to pay for Greg's funeral when he died in October.

Marcus Adam, who won two gold medals at the 1990 Commonwealth Games and competed in two Olympics, grew up on the Woodberry Down Estate in Hackney with Demetriou. The 51-year-old says he can never forgive his former friend.

"It's just really sad," he said. "He was like a little brother to me and to find out he was a liar and a thief was hard. The Arsenal lads are like a second family to each other and they are gutted. Everyone young and old turned out for the guy. It's disgusting what he did."

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In 2012 Demetriou's mother Eleftheria was stabbed in her Wood Green home by neighbour Hakim Abdillahi, who was suffering from paranoid delusions and thought she was the antichrist.

Demetriou spoke out against the authorities and threatened legal action.

"Greg's mum lost all the deeds to her house," added Marcus. "If I ever win the lottery I would give it all back.

"I don't like to kick a man when he's down but I'll never forgive him."

Demetriou admitted fraud.

His wife Teresa and sons John and Louie were cleared of money laundering.

Det Insp of Hertfordshire police's fraud unit Rob Burns said following his sentencing: "Demetriou took advantage of his mother's death to ingratiate himself to his victims and then played on their sympathy.

"He exploited their good natures to extract money from them, that they have spent a lifetime saving and which was meant to sustain them in their retirement."