A woman engaged to a serial conman who swindled her out of £850,000 today told of her ‘match made in hell’ after she married his former business partner.
Carolyn Woods was tricked by her liar ex Mark Acklom into believing he was a spy and duped out of hundreds of thousands of pounds in life savings.
Acklom was frequently away from home, claiming MI6 were trying to sabotage their relationship by sending him on missions to Syria while Ms Woods’ increasing loneliness caused her to contemplate suicide.
His lies grew even wilder as he claimed that he had developed a brain tumour but could not have people visiting him in hospital due to state secrets he might reveal as the effects of anaesthetic wore off.
In reality, the charismatic conman had drained the mother-of-two’s bank account of her £850,000 life savings – and was actually living just three miles away in a village with his Spanish wife and two daughters.
Carolyn Woods was tricked by her liar ex Mark Acklom into believing he was a spy and duped out of hundreds of thousands of pounds in life savings
Acklom was frequently away from home, claiming MI6 were trying to sabotage their relationship by sending him on missions to Syria
Acklom’s former business partner James Miller, whose enterprise had gone under thanks to the liar, discovered that Acklom had been jailed in 1991 for four years for a £466,000 mortgage fraud after he posed as a City stockbroker.
Acklom also spent £11,000 after stealing his father’s credit card, swindled a former teacher out of £13,000 and ran up a £34,000 bill with a private charter jet company.
Now jailed for his ‘cruel and cynical’ behaviour, Ms Woods has revealed how her meetings with Mr Miller developed into a romantic relationship in 2013.
The pair dated for seven years and have since tied the knot, as she described in an adaptation of her book Sleeping With A Psychopath serialised in the Mail.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Ms Woods said: ‘I think in a way for both of us we were much stronger together than we were as individuals, and when I embarked on that relationship I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
‘I did trust James and I understand what he’s been through and he understands more than anyone what I’ve been though. It was a match made in hell but we did find happiness in the end.’
Now jailed for his ‘cruel and cynical’ behaviour, Ms Woods has revealed how her meetings with Mr Miller developed into a romantic relationship in 2013. The pair dated for seven years and have since tied the knot, she described in an adaptation of her book serialised in the Mail
In her book Sleeping With A Psychopath, which is being released on Thursday, Ms Woods revealed how she was left with just the wedding dress she had planned to marry ‘flirtatious, charming and very entertaining’ Acklom in.
Towards the start of their relationship, after meeting in 2012, Acklom took her flying in a private plane after claiming to be an experienced flier.
She was wooed by the romantic gesture, but was surprised when he backed out last minute and let his business associate Mr Miller fly the plane instead.
In reality, none of the classic planes at the small airfield belonged to Mark, despite him claiming they were his, and James was another of his victims.
‘I think the very first time I set eyes on him [James] was a few days into my relationship with Acklom and he took me to see what he said was his collection of aircrafts and I said hello to James in passing,’ she told This Morning.
‘The first time I spent anytime with him at all was when he took me on a flight on an aircraft he said belonged to Acklom. I spent 10 minutes or so on that lovely flight and then again briefly when I was in dire straits. James bought me a Christmas tree when I was living in Bath and had been instructed to by Mark.’
Ms Woods initially gave Acklom £850,000 as a temporary cash flow solution to his renovations of a Grade I-listed Georgian manor house near Bath.
The home was supposed to be where the couple lived after tying the knot, but this was another one of Acklom’s lies, as he never owned the home.
He later told Ms Woods that the home was unsuitable for them to live in as it could never be secure enough – given his supposed employment with MI6.
Instead, they moved into a £3million Georgian townhouse in Bath. In order to secure their expensive home, Acklom forged her signature on the tenancy agreement and paid a year’s rent upfront using her money.
Appearing on This Morning, Ms Woods said: ‘I don’t believe it was by chance, I think it was planned – but he came into my place of work, we got chatting and I felt I’d known him all my life. I think anyone could fall for that sort of thing.
‘I don’t think I really heard the alarm bells until a about a year later. He was so convincing and left a web of deceit though a strand of life that was totally real.
‘It wasn’t until over a year unto the relationship I began to doubt him. I hadn’t seen him for a long time and things were really strange.’
Acklom made Ms Woods fear for her life due to his espionage work, and he once claimed her car brakes had been ‘tampered with’.
Fraudster Acklom lied about being a spy and was given £850,000 of Ms Woods’ life savings
Knowing what I know now, I am convinced that he is a psychopath, a social predator with no conscience and an inability to feel love, compassion, guilt or remorse, says Carolyn Woods
Ms Woods grew increasingly isolated, particularly as she was often left alone but was unable to discuss his ‘job’ with friends. At the brink of her loneliness, she even contemplated suicide.
Mark’s lying grew even more wild, and he claimed he had developed a brain tumour, but he could not have visitors in hospital due to state secrets he might reveal as the effects of anaesthetic wore off.
When Ms Woods drove to his hospital in Bristol, he said he could meet her in the car park and showed how his head was heavily bandaged. Writing in the Mail, she said that she believed the bandages were applied by a doctor he was having a relationship with.
‘I did think he had suffered a brain tumour and my own mental state was pretty fragile too,’ she said on ITV’s flagship current affairs show today.
Ms Woods grew increasingly desperate for her money back, but Acklom told her his assistant was using his illness to steal cash from him.
All the bills in their house were in Ms Woods’ name, and she quickly reached the end of her overdraft and credit card limit. She was forced to move out of their home, and friends put her up for short periods.
She cashed in her pension to pay off her debts, but Acklom told her he was planning to sell their home so she would get her money back. However, months later, no money appeared, and he said lawyers wrongly believed he had not paid outstanding fees and were withholding the money from the sale.
Acklom became increasingly absent, and later claimed to be hiding out in Italy and he hoped she could visit so they could be reunited. But each time tickets were ‘booked’ they failed to appear.
Ms Woods then rang Mr Miller, in order to get some information and advice about Acklom – and only then learned about Acklom’s criminal past. She rang Acklom demanding her repay her money, but the line went dead and she never heard from him again.
An arrest warrant was issued in June 2016 and he was believed to be at large in Spain, after being released from prison there over a £200,000 property fraud.
Acklom was arrested in Zurich in 2017 after being found at a luxury apartment, where he had been living with his wife and their two daughters.
He was deported and earlier this month pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud by false representation before he was to face a trial. Acklom was sentenced to five years and eight months.