A BANKRUPT commercial property developer has been jailed for three years for conning investors across the country in a £1.3million scam.

Shaun Kiely, 43, of Limewood Close, Helmshore, was also banned from being a company director for seven years by Preston Crown Court Judge Jonathan Gibson.

Kiely, who represented himself during his trial, was found guilty of obtaining money by deception, of attempting the same offence, false accounting and furnishing false information.

Kiely was the director and shareholder of Sky Properties (Northern) Ltd, a development and real estate business, as well as S-Mart Stores, a chain of small retail outlets.

The 2005 fraud involved Sky Properties buying 50 cheap outlets and creating 20-year commercial leases for S-Mart.

S-Mart auctioned off the freeholds to investors who believed they would make money from ‘viable and profitable business opportunities’, while S-Mart paid the rent.

But they were stocked with poor- quality goods, damaged items, and got no customers.

Investors were left ‘high and dry’ with property worth less than they paid.

Judge Gibson accepted Kiely had not set the companies up for fraud from the outset, but that his dealings became dishonest.

The prosecution put the loss caused at £1.3m.

Mark Stevenson, now defending Kiely, said his client had invested ‘considerable sums’ in the premises and was now all but bankrupt.

“This is a man who defended himself with an absolute belief that what he was doing was OK.”

Mr Stephenson said his client has lodged an appeal against his conviction.