ESSEX POLICE has vowed to continue to investigate complaints of fraud after a well-known Thurrock businessman pleaded guilty to VAT Fraud and acting as a company director when banned from doing so.
The court case and on-going investigation are in sharp contrast to a glittering business career that for many embodied the “Essex Dream” but for others has left a trail of debt and heartbreak that they claim was caused by Phil Cooper.
Cooper, 50, had a steady solid career for many years, until over fifteen years ago, when his signage company Optimum Services Display Limited signed a deal with Coca-Cola. From that day, Cooper did not look back.
Cooper moved his wife Kathryn and three children from South Ockendon to Mill Lane in Fobbing and then onto a large country pile in Chignall St James near Chelmsford.
However, Cooper remained very much part of the Thurrock community retaining close links with the rotary,freemason and business community. He wrote a business column in the Thurrock Gazette. Infact YT filmed an interview with Cooper in 2008 as he dispensed advice to the Thurrock business community about how to survive the recession.
Father-of-three, Cooper was also chair of governors of Gable Hall School where he was also a high profile figure. He was seen as the perfect foil for headteacher John King MBE.
He used his West Ham connections (where he had an executive box) to bring West Ham legend Tony Cottee to school events as well as former Beach Boys as part of an attempt to advance his daughter Charlotte’s singing career.
Cooper’s Beach Boys connections saw him pursue a venture which hoped to bring the story of ‘The Lost Beach Boy” to the West End stage. This seems to have withered on the vine as The Lost Beach Boy Limited was struck off Companies House on Feb 4th.
But all that has come tumbling down and in October, last year, Cooper (50) pleaded guilty in Chelmsford Crown Court to charges of VAT fraud and acting as a company director, when banned from doing so.
Cooper was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months as well as 80 hours of community service.
But the story does not stop there as it appears that there are now over twenty (and rising) companies who believe they are owed considerable amounts of money by Cooper.
Essex Police are continuing to investigate Cooper and is urging anyone with information to come forward.
An Essex spokesperson said: “Anyone who feels they have information is asked to speak to DC Toby Larner at Chelmsford CID on 101. Anyone who has spoken to police, but has new information, should also contact DC Larner.”
YT has uncovered a number of Thurrock companies and individuals who have contacted the police.
A spokesperson for Stanford-le-Hope company Shoreline Formwork Limited said: “We are continuing to pursue a claim against Mr Cooper”.
YT also spoke to a Corringham company that has told us that they are pursuing Cooper for £47,000.
There are also companies and individuals from all over the South East who have contacted the police in the belief that a criminal offence may have taken place.
Cooper declared himself bankrupt on November 6, 2012, and his company bankrupt a day earlier.
YT understands that the Cooper family has moved from Chignall St James and are in the Norfolk area.
So why did people always call him Phoney Phil?