Grieving parents fighting for the truth about what happened to their daughter have spoken of their disgust at a conman who targeted them.
Simon Delow contacted Pat and Ray Martin to offer his services as an investigator – but has now been jailed after admitting fraud.
Mrs Martin, aged 61, and her husband, 62, of Mansfield Road, Sutton, have been fighting to get the case into their daughter’s death reopened since it was classed a suicide by Italian authorities.
Claire Martin died of multiple knife wounds to the throat outside the family villa of her Italian fiancé in Campania, southern Italy, in March 2012, aged 31.
Her parents first met Delow in September that year, at a conference for people who have lost loved ones abroad.
Delow, 48, gained the Martin’s trust by claiming he was in the RAF and special forces.
Mr Martin has said he has angry at himself for believing Delow, as he had been in the military.
He said: “ I am a bit mad at myself. Usually if I am not sure about someone’s military background I will ask for their Army number because you never forget that, but he rattled a number off.
“He spoke like an officer and was completely believable.
“When I was told by the police what he was I felt sick. ”
Delow, also known as Simon De’Gresser, from Gloucester, admitted 10 counts of fraud by misrepresentation and was jailed for 10 years last month.
He claimed his company could deploy teams of investigators to relevant countries and was hired by grieving families to investigate the deaths of their children who had died abroad.
Mrs Martin said: “We did spend the first Christmas with him after Claire died.
“He invited us to stay in Gloucester. We felt as though they were friends and we had lots in common.”
The couple said he never mentioned payment initially, but then started asking for thousands of pounds to investigate Claire’s death.
They said they first became suspicious at a demonstration outside the Foreign Office in London, where Delow told the couple arrests would be made in Italy and they should “act fast” to gain custody of their six-year-old grandson Alex.
Mr Martin said: “He said there would be a few arrests and if we didn’t act quick our grandson would be lost to the Italian foster system.
“He also said if we weren’t allowed to have him he would adopt Alex.”
Mrs Martin said: “Something just didn’t sit right. We had no chance of getting Alex as he has a father in Italy.
“I am distraught he would try to target families like us.”