A GAMBLING addict who posed as a former Manchester United footballer’s wife to fraudulently sell on eBay a £7,500 Rolex watch he never owned has been jailed.

Burnley Crown Court heard Jordan Meakin had previously legitimately sold a Rolex watch formerly belonging to Leanne Brown, wife of ex-Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United defender Wes, to victim Kevin Robins.

But the court was told Meakin, 35, tried to repeat the trick but this time with a watch which had no link to Mrs Brown, star of the Real Housewives Of Cheshire TV show.

In what was described in court as a sophisticated scam, Meakin tried to fool both Mr Robins and Royal Mail by sending an empty Rolex box in a loosely sealed parcel by special delivery.

To make matters worse Meakin, who once went on a holiday to Thailand and then defrauded the Halifax Bank out of thousands of pounds by stating his account had been hacked, tried to claim a £2,500 insurance payout from the Royal Mail over the ‘lost watch’.

Prosecutor Andrea Fitzgerald said: “The defendant advertised a number of watches for sale on eBay, including a Rolex Daytona for the sum of £7,850. He used the seller name Leanne Brown and said in emails he lived in Deansgate, Manchester.

“Kevin Robins agreed to buy the watch and paid the defendant the full sum in five instalments.

“The defendant used an overly large special delivery polythene envelope to post the watch to Mr Robins. The bag was placed on the scale at the post office counter in such a way as to obscure the postmistress’ view of the defendant placing a small white box on the scale to boost the weight of the parcel. In fact the parcel contained the empty Rolex watch box and a small amount of paperwork.”

The court heard the self-adhesive strip on the envelope was not used and it was sellotaped shut very loosely.

Ms Fitzgerald continued: “On receipt of the parcel, Mr Robins immediately checked it and found it to be open and the watch missing, although all the packaging accompanying the watch was still present.

“Mr Robins immediately complained to the postman who had delivered the parcel and to the Royal Mail. Mr Robins exchanged emails with ‘Leanne’ – the defendant – to ask if she would refund the money but she refused.”

The prosecutor said as a result of complaints made by Mr Robins to the chief executive of the Royal Mail about the loss of the watch, an investigation was launched and the CCTV footage of it being sent was recovered. On October 19, 2017, Meakin, of Cemetery Road, Darwen, submitted his false insurance claim with Royal Mail for the loss of the watch.

Meakin continued to deny any involvement in the scam but eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud the week before his trial was due to start.

Defending Meakin, who has nine previous convictions for dishonesty, John Marsh said his client has a gambling addiction which he had sought help for.

He said: “He has about £900 saved up which can be sent quickly to the victim in this case. He has no other savings. Everything else has been gambled away.”

Recorder Nicholas Clarke QC jailed Meakin for 16 months and ordered him to pay £900 compensation.

The remaining £6,950 must be repaid on his release.