An Irish conman, who blew his share of the proceeds of a trick sale of the Ritz Hotel, London on a horse-racing and shopping binge, is facing trial for his role in carrying out the fake sale.

Patrick Dolan (68) said he received €644,000 from the alleged victims and spent €40,000 a day on betting on horse races while also paying off his mortgage and living it up.  "A wise man told me there's no shops in the graveyard,” he told a bemused court.

Besides paying off his credit card debt, the pensioner made main use of the money to back horses: "Forty thousand a day on races. I had a good time. I know everything about horses. I know them back to front," explained the conman.

Solicitor Conn Farrell (57), Anthony Lee (49), and Dolan stand jointly accused of carrying out a phony sale of the Ritz Hotel, London.

The bid to sell the Picadilly hotel  —which they did not own— for the sum of £250m was described by the court as a “well-targeted and extremely ambitious scam.”

Although the full sale was not completed, the trio did succeed in getting the victim to make a deposit payment of £1m for the property.

The court described how the sale was for a ‘trophy property’ and how “some people are prepared to take risks that might seem breathtaking to most of us.”

The gullible victims leaped at the offer, as one valuer had assessed the property to be worth £450m to £600m. At just £100 million it seemed like a bargain that was too good to be true. It was.

The prosecution said that the swindling trio “deliberately lied to Terence Collins [the purchaser] and those on his side of the proposed transaction in order to obtain the payment of £1m”.

They also said that the trio’s fake lawyer “was not in possession of any contract for the sale of the Ritz”, and “this is an example of Farrell [the fake solicitor] using his position as a solicitor to add a veneer of legitimacy to the defendants’ scheme”.

The trial is expected to last for four weeks and continues at Southwark Crown Court