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This Blog is dedicated to making public some of the business activities and methods of Liam Collins, David Bone Jr and their associates. In the spring of 2010, the present authors invested in Collins & Bone (C&B), who were offering an enticing 8-10% interest on the basis of buying houses for cash, renovating them and letting them out to students. We were assured that our money was secured against houses that they owned, including their own homes and the properties held by their associated company, Castle & Gatehouse (C&G). We have emails and brochures that confirm these details, as do others who invested on this same basis at around the same time. The idea worked for us for over a year, then in November 2011 they told us they were insolvent. They refused our every request for clear accounts, which led us to suspect wrongdoing. We began an investigation and then started this Blog. We found our suspicions confirmed: other investors had lost sometimes quite large amounts to C&B and its predecessor CBS, and all requests for repayment were adamantly refused. These people use and have used so many names that we found it necessary to compress them into CoBo (for Collins & Bone) and Coboco (for the whole bunch of them – there are quite a few!) Note that there is an index in the margin at the right hand side.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012


We received a circular last night from Liam Collins, addressed to all investors in which he fields the possibility of setting up an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) to deal with CoBo's many creditors. Investors will remember that he has ruled out this idea many times in the past, but now that his bankruptcy hearing is drawing close, he is suddenly keen to set up an IVA. Could this possibly be a ploy intended to delay, evade or side-step bankruptcy? 

If CoBo were a regular business operation that had been doing its best in a difficult financial period, an IVA might  be quite a good plan for working its way out of debt. As it is, however, there has been so much malpractice, misinformation, deception, evasion and postponement that we do not think an IVA would be in the least appropriate, neither would it be able to sort out the financial shambles surrounding the Partnership.

In any event, an IVA would be a very poor way for investors to be repaid, since it is likely that a high proportion of CoBo's debt would be written off at the start. They do not deserve to have one penny of the debt written off.

Another, and to our mind, more interesting option for investors is that a Public Trustee can be appointed, either at the bankruptcy hearing or shortly thereafter, to administer all of the assets on behalf of creditors.

We point out here that, since most investors have read and continue to peruse this Blog, it is extremely unlikely that CoBo would be able to get the 75% investor support required for an IVA. So yet again, we advise the Partnership to stop prevaricating and assist the authorities.* That's the only way to finally be free of the 'nightmare.'


* If CoBo should protest that they are doing everything they can to assist the authorities, we would point out that Liam Collins evaded personal service of the bankruptcy papers by not being present at a place and time he had fixed for their delivery; he also failed to appear at the Court for the hearing in January of this year, even though he was aware of the time and date of the hearing. He thus made things more expensive and time-consuming for everyone, as he continues to do.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


We have received the following report, which we post here in full:
"I would like to give credit to  the creators of this blog, as it has shown great bravery. Up until then investors were under the impression they had to remain loyal to Collins and Bone because otherwise they would see nothing of their investment back, the line being ‘if anyone pulls the plug, we all go down together’ and we are led to believe we will all get our money back when one day a future hare-brained scheme will come to fruition. It reminds me of Only Fools and Horses with the line “one day we will be millionaires”! The difference being that was a comedy and this is real life incompetence.

"I have thought and known for a long time I will never see my money again and have learned to live with it. The only satisfaction I would have achieved in making them bankrupt is that this whole episode in our lives could be drawn to a close. There are potential criminal charges that could be brought which could achieve satisfaction. One thing is for sure no one will ever see their money back and the reason is very simple. They have attempted to make money in property with other people's money in many different guises for a number of years. Their mistakes have been obvious to many, their incompetence knows no bounds, their optimism is incredible (if only we could bottle it and sell it we could get some money back).  Why should the same people, doing roughly the same thing suddenly make their fortune when all around them there are others doing it differently and making money. What I mean is: I am making money on my portfolio since going it alone after CBS went bust, meanwhile their other companies continue to fail using investors' money.

"I am one of the earlier investors under the scheme where you paid over a sum of money for them to source and renovate a property. The money you paid over attracted interest at 10% until the renovations were complete, and for every bedroom they achieved from the resultant renovation you received a ‘guaranteed’ rent. The problem I had was the money ran out and therefore the renovations were not done and so no tenants. There was a large workforce at the time being paid —no doubt out of my money—although they had no materials to work with to do any work to my properties. Obviously to anyone normal this would imply guaranteed rents would be impossible as without renovations you get no tenants. Not to CBS though: they continued to offer guaranteed rents for a long time after the cash flow problems existed, knowing full well they were unachievable. I pointed this out to them at the time, although they continued for some time after. No doubt future investors' investments were going to pay these guaranteed rents and the workforce’s wages to do nothing. A self-perpetuating spiral of debt was being created, with existing revenues being unable to pay existing expenses. I would occasionally receive a payment for interest or rent which would probably have been when a new investor had been relieved of his or her hard-earned money for a scheme which was doomed at the outset and to any normal person knowingly so.

"Then we had the promissory notes which were being given out randomly, backed against property which already had charges on by others, Mortgage Express being the largest. There was no way all these promissory notes could ever have been honoured. I understand there is somewhere near £4M of debt in total over all the bankrupt companies! I also have declarations of trust secured against properties, along no doubt with many other investors. So, they offered these documents out to everyone with no ability to ever honour them.

"Liam and Davey both come across as very nice people and Davey once said to me, ‘if it was my intention to con you then I would have gone about it a lot differently’ or words to that effect. I believed him then and so the conclusion is possibly pure naive incompetence, which I understand they are admitting now. Having said that, any normal person would have seen all warnings, had a conscience they were potentially ruining peoples lives, realised things were not working and stopped earlier, not taken from one to pay another, not driven around in flash cars, occupied flash offices, listened to what people were telling them and answered telephone calls. If I had the phone ringing all the time and debtors letters arriving by the mailbag from disgruntled investors not to mention poor tenants whose maintenance wasn’t carried out or deposits returned, I think I would have stopped earlier, but then maybe they simply thought “one day we will be millionaires”.

"I could go on and tell you about a lot more. If anyone needs further evidence then contact this Blog. It seems that a prosecution is the only way to stop future people ending up with the stress and potential ruin that we have had to endure. They say they are the biggest losers in all this; I think not, as where has all that money gone?"

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Liam Collins begins his letter to investors today by saying, "As many of you know, I am being made bankrupt on 16th January in Newcastle." Readers will be aware that the date he gives is long past; the actual date, a future one at the time of writing and as shown in our earlier post, is

15th MARCH 2012 at 11am

Liam Collins: Please confirm you understand date and time. (We have since heard that he has in fact taken this on board).

Our selected excerpt:

"Can I also say at this stage to Sally and Jasmine. I would like to apologise for the words I used in the press article to describe you both. I do not think those things of you I was simply very angry at the time. I think you have worked very hard to bring the transparency to the investors and we would not have had the time to do this without the pressure from you and other investors to answer a lot of import questions. At this stage we are spending our time defending against PR articles and spending taking PR advice to attempt to clear the names of other people who are being brought into this. I would like to ask you if at this stage you will simply help us to find a solution."

We assure Liam Collins that no offence is taken at any attempt to describe us, however inept. As to a solution, we have already offered the most obvious solution more than once, but we have it on good authority that CoBo et al have habitually turned a deaf ear to professional advice and sensible suggestions; it would therefore seem to be something of an exercise in futility to offer any new ones. However, since even exercises in futility may well prove to have certain health benefits, we gladly point out that nothing in the entire corpus of human knowledge and achievement can beat clarity for wholesome efficacy. Anyone can see that the business fantasies of the Group in question far over-reached themselves in complexity and in the auto-hypnosis of market optimism—during a recession. And none of the members of this Group actually wanted to do any real work! The Group should start to look forward to achieving, with the help of skilled personnel, complete clarity with regard to what they have been doing. 

From evidence that keeps arriving on our desk, we see that the muddle in which this Group have got themselves and many, many others has been growing for years like some serious disease and it seems they were themselves frightened by the scale and complexity of their deception and wrong-doing. Drastic action is needed and will follow.


Investors may find the following link interesting:

Many of the houses on the Novocastria Lettings list are actually Collins & Bone 'owned,' that is, on the list of Collins & Bone assets. As readers will see, the rents on these properties are quite sizeable and it therefore seems somewhat incredible that CoBo have got themselves into such a situation of deep debt. 

Interestingly, the address given for Novocastria Lettings is 36 Langhorn Close, Newcastle, which is also a property on CoBo's asset list. Anyone enquiring about renting a property may find themselves talking to Rachael Bone.

We publish below two versions of CoBo's asset list, which we think are fairly up-to-date. One shows the location of the properties; the other, value and mortgage status. CoBo stated that they would put a list of current assets on their blog, but since these haven't appeared yet and time is running short, we post them below.

1              41 Albert Road
2              15 Dart Street
4              206 Plungington Road

1              11 Queen Street
2              30 Peacock Avenue
3              2 Dronfield Road

1              36, Holderness Road
2              36, Langhorn Close

1              Rose Cottage B
2              73 Cobden Street
3              9 Carlton Close
4              66 Queens Road
5              81 King Street
6              91 Shelthorpe Road
7              97 Wharncliffe Rd
8              101 Queens Road
9              138 Paget street
10           151 Leicester Road
11           113 Station Street
12           15A, Moira Street
13           27 Albert Road
14           4 Albert Street


The Petition for the bankruptcy of Liam Collins is scheduled to be heard at Newcastle County Court on March 15th at 11 am. We trust that he will be responsible enough to attend Court this time.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


In their post of 13th February on the copycat blog, CoBo relate their efforts to talk to the FSA and the police about possible charges of malpractice and fraud that may be brought against them. They write, ‘We wish for this to be brought to a head as much as you do. And in order to 'turn ourselves in' there first has to be a reluctance to do so, again, this is far from the case.’ Here, they show that they have misunderstood the expression. Understandable, but erroneous.

The phrase we used ‘to turn themselves in’ means that they should at once stop prevaricating and arguing and simply admit to the investors and the relevant authorities that they acted deceitfully in soliciting money and promising high rates of interest. The highly plausible sales pitch that was used to persuade people to part with their money bore little or no relationship to how the funds were actually used or to the actual state of the Partnership's solvency. This was in a parlous state, but they deceived everyone into thinking that they were fully solvent. They gave all potential investors the impression that they were dedicated to buying, restoring and letting out property, when in fact there seems to have been little more to their business than endless talk on mobile phones while expensively gadding about the country and avoiding unhappy and angry creditors.

So, once again we suggest that this whole property development team* should turn itself in, come clean about all the assets and liabilities and let the proper authorities see what can be done to sort out the present financial fiasco. There will be a lot of work to do in order to effect a satisfactory clear-up, but just think of the weight that will be lifted from everyone's shoulders!

*The whole team is, of course: David Bone Sr and Jr, Rachel Bone, Mark Black and Liam Collins.

Monday, 13 February 2012


This is to introduce readers to a new, associated blog edited by an investor who states that, like us, his goal is to get to the bottom of this whole mess [i.e., the C&B/C&G/CBS mess] in a professional manner

He has been trying to discover what actually happened to our money. He has a unique approach and readers are urged to visit his blog and give some answers to questions posed there. Anyone who doesn't want to participate in the blog can send an email to the editor, Ewart, via 


We received this very sad letter from a man who invested his redundancy pay and a portion of his pension savings—£75,000 in total. We print his email just as it came ...

"Dear Sally,

Unfortunately I haven't any brochures, as it was all on the internet and then I was given the hard sell on the phone, like most of us, with phoned recommendations from Mark Black and Robert Wakefield. I also saw an article on them in the F/Times. I unfortunately was persuaded to part with my redundancy pay plus 25% of my pension, thinking I would get a regular income as promised, with the capital secured by their debt-free assets. I am now 60 and my new wife is pregnant, due in April.

But we all have our own stories to tell. The thing is we must make them pay somehow, because they're taking the mickey out of us and the law with all their flannel."

Saturday, 11 February 2012


Well, having been through all the evidence, it is difficult to fully understand how four or five people could have made such a comprehensive mess. They accepted quite substantial sums of money from investors on the strength of seemingly plausible property schemes. But they failed to buy houses according to their advertised business plan, instead using the investors' money as ready cash or spending it on whatever ideas took their fancy at the time. Unless further facts emerge to the contrary, that's how it is looking right now. And the fact is that an awful lot of money is owed by this group, much of it to people who can ill afford to lose it. Yet as far as we know, the group still claim that they have not been engaged in any wrongdoing. 

Amazingly enough, their chief salesman has even suggested that the investors themselves are to blame for having placed their trust and money in his hands. Also, for not checking his track record more thoroughly and for being fooled by his offers of unfeasibly high interest. Further, according to him, this Blog itself is to blame because without it, they would all be able to get back to work - cheerfully taking in more money from unsuspecting people.

That this has been going on for so long is now beyond a joke. Their best course, in our view, would be to turn themselves in, so that the due process of sorting out the mess with some proper accountancy could start without further prevarication. The law of this country is really quite soft, so they have little to worry about in the way of retribution. 

As for us, we just want our money back. It's that simple.


We print this report in full because it shows in detail many of the problems that others who dealt with CBS have experienced ...

"I do apologise if this is a bit long winded, but I feel it may help others. I have all the necessary email traffic over the years between all mentioned parties, as back-up to my story.

I invested with CBS Ltd in May 2008, after I had read about Liam and Davey in the RLA magazine of which I was a subscriber. I still have that same article. After contacting them, speaking to Liam each time I called, he thoroughly convinced me  and said that if I got my £7500 deposit in prior to June that year that he would not charge me a finders fee for my 1st property.

I sent the deposit in due course and waited for some properties to come through. This didn’t happen and I continued to wait a while longer, before trying to get some answers to the delay. All the time they had the deposit I was continually pestering them (when I could ever get through to someone) about the fact that I had not been receiving the 10% interest on my deposit.

I had numerous chats with the man who was their accountant at the time, and eventually some interest was paid. It was never automatic and always took effort on my part.

Eventually, after many months, a few houses started to come through, but were few and far between. It took until about September 2008, just prior to the crash when something suitable came through which Liam sent via email himself. I got the wheels rolling and went for it, and about two weeks into the deal, Natwest, their mortgage backer, pulled the 85% LTV products.

My deal was now going to be on the rocks as the figures didn’t stack up for me. I had found the estate agents who were marketing the property earlier on in the due diligence process, and I contacted them to say sorry, but it wasn’t happening.

I received a call from them a few weeks later to say the vendors had reduced the price and was I still interested. I eventually completed on the property in March 2009. I saw the place for the 1st time on the day of completion.

This is now where the real problems started for me when dealing with CBS.

I wanted to get the ball rolling as soon as, so discussed if it was still possible, as my house was in pretty good shape, to achieve the stated 28 day turnaround time for renovations. I then received an email from Rachael Bone to say that they had a renovation team waiting to go in, ‘chomping at the bit’ were the words I seem to remember, and that they wanted the rest of the money to make up the £20,140, the cost of converting a three bed into a four bed, to the so called “High CBS standard”.

I discussed this with their accountant, and said that he owed me about four months of interest on my deposit and I would be deducting this from any payment. He agreed and foolishly I went ahead with a CHAPS transfer, for the difference. Here is where experience was sadly lacking on my part because I should have had a hard and fast schedule of works etc before going ahead, and if they were professional this would all have been in place as part of a regular procedure, and not for clients to second-guess.

I waited for updates for at least three weeks, and none were forthcoming so I tried to contact anyone at CBS, to no avail. Eventually, after leaving things a bit longer, thinking all must be near completion by now, I did manage to get through to Rachael Bone, but she always seemed to duck the answer, and would say she would get back to me. Quite a few weeks went by with no information either via email, despite many being sent to Liam and Rachael, or by phone.

All this time no-one was prepared to commit to letting me know how far my property had progressed. It really was like trying to get blood out of a stone. This continued through the best part of 2009, until an email from Liam which told us all about the company difficulties and their plans. After much pestering, I eventually got through to Liam. We then had a conversation in which he talked of Promissory Notes—something I’d not heard of, and said that I was going to receive one as well.

I fought for a six-month note, and managed to get one eventually, instead of the 1 year note they wanted to give me, as I was now in difficulty trying to get any more finance to finish my house. Unfortunately I was sucked in by the smoothness and friendliness of Davey and Liam in all our conversations, and I was still coming down on their side with regard to all the PNs, etc.

It wasn’t until Davey called me up to see if I wanted to sell my house to the ’Irishman’ that I managed to get him to go around and see the progress of the renovations. He called me back next day; note that this was now around December 2009—8 months after completing—to say that nothing had been done except for some 'rip out.'

This is where I make mistake number 2.  I now let Davey convince me that if I could raise the finance, he would get a quote to get the place ready for student letting, using his team from Newcastle, COMPLETE BUILDING SOLUTIONS, which was managed by their renovations manager Paul MacDonald. He would make sure it was at cost only, with no profit for them.

I was desperate to get some income coming in and did not want to miss another student year. The quote sounded reasonable, and as I lived so far away and had no contacts in the area regarding building works, I said I would agree, but only if I could pay with staged payments. This was agreed and I was sent some pretty poor mobile phone pictures of progress. Again, if I had had the time I would dearly have liked to pay a visit and see for myself, especially before the last payment. The Hindsight Club says, 'Never again!'

The place was completed in Feb 2010 and remained empty; as I was so tied up with these guys now I even let DIGGS, their associated lettings company, manage it for me. I paid a visit to the property in about June, and was not overly impressed with what I had got for my extra money. The loft hatch had been left open and the whole place had suffered condensation as a result. I now had to get this cleared up, too. The bathroom floor was not tiled, even though the emailed bill of works from Paul Mac had stated that it was. There were numerous items of deficiency which I duly listed and told them to correct.

It was let out in July that year to 3 students who moved in, in September. Rent was always erratic, and every time I called DIGGS I would be fobbed off with all types of excuses. Sometimes it would be 3 months rent in one lump, making up for no rent for the the previous two months. I managed to get away from DIGGS shortly after Patrick Collins came to take over.  I think he got fed up with my pestering, and he let me transfer to another agent.

The biggest shock came in July 2011, when after all the paperwork had been passed over, the new agent could not find the electrical periodical inspection certificate. DIGGS swore blind that one had been current, because they had all seen it in the file. I then started to call around all the certifying bodies to see if it was on record. Of the many I spoke to, none had any evidence of it.

I then got somebody reputable to carry it out for me, and to my dismay and anger I discovered that many of the items Paul Macdonald had said would be done regarding electrical works, had not been.

The most serious failures were as follows:

    1. The agreed edition 17 regulation fuse box had not been fitted, the original outdated box was still in place.
    2. The biggest concern was that the smoke detectors had been wired up incorrectly, and would not have worked at all.

Please note that these workers did many of the renovations for CBS and I therefore warn all of you to check carefully any electrical work they are supposed to have done on your own property. I was disgusted that they could jeopardise the lives of my tenants, and totally compromise my position as landlord at the same time.

I have foolishly trusted these guys and kick myself for doing so. They have tarnished my faith in human nature, and no doubt for a lot of you also. I had to pay an extra £500 to get the defects rectified and a new certificate, and Rachael and Davey agreed last August 2011, after I suggested it, that they would pay me £250 in both September and October. I am still waiting.

I suggest that if they are sincere about paying us back, then they should put all their remaining properties into a trust for us all. I have information that at one time their combined portfolio was bringing in about £20,000 a month. Multiply that by 12, and you have £240,00 a year. If you knock off £ 40,000 for operating costs, it still means in 5 years we have accumulated £1,000,000 towards paying down the debt. Perhaps we can each own a proportion of the portfolio based on how much each individual is owed.

As their 'Faces of Disco' business seems to be doing well, according to the website, they can dance for a living. Hopefully that will keep them busy enough to stay away from the property business.

To date I am still owed £20,140 + £500 for the extra work, and many months of lost rent, and sleep, from an uninhabitable property. The rent was supposed to be guaranteed even if it was empty, according to their contract."


Friday, 3 February 2012


All properties are finished to a very high standard, as this photograph elegantly illustrates

Readers are invited to participate in a simple recognition test. Of what other property development website is the undermentioned website reminiscent? (No prizes offered, but answers are welcome). 

Here is page 11 of the Novocastria Developments brochure, with its testimonials:-

"Having responded to an advert in the Landlords Association publication I went to meet David Bone and viewed properties in Salford, Bolton and Preston. The renovated properties I viewed were finished to a higher standard than my own home! David was professional, knowledgeable and had a very positive vision of where the partnership was headed. This first visit was followed by a number of phone conversations with Liam Collins who again proved both helpful and positive. I committed to buying a property and have subsequently purchased more. Over the medium term, the returns I will achieve both in terms of income and capital growth are, in my opinion, as good an investment as one is likely to find. I have recently revisited to view a number of properties; again, all were helpful and very professional. I will certainly be buying further properties."
Paul Cronin

"In 2002 I started buying property where I live in Northern Ireland. I initially did well from these properties in relation to equity growth but was only ever breaking even between outgoings and income and even had to subsidise the account at times. Also as I got a few more properties I found more of my time was taken up running after tenants and problems with the houses. When introduced to Novocastria by a friend last year I flew over to look at the standard of the properties and met the staff. I was very impressed with the finish of the properties and the professionalism of the staff. I raised money on my own home and invested in two properties with them which I am delighted to say are up and running. For the first time in four years I am making a profit every month and no headaches. The rental income takes the pressure of worrying about how much is coming in each month. Novocastria is a first class, well run business that provide a great investment opportunity that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants a great return on investment with little risk or hassle."
Andrew Dixon

"I have been dealing with Liam, David & Mark for over two years and have found that they offer a personal, professional and forward thinking service. The model and future ‘brand’ they have created is attractive to investors and tenants alike and should benefit both in the short and longer term. I am looking forward to the building work starting on the properties I have invested in and then the tenants moving in. There is always an element of trust involved in the whole process but in buying a finished house the investment works very well indeed." 
Phil Haslam

"In March 2007 I first invested with the partnership after discussions with Liam Collins, I was impressed with his drive and enthusiasm and the plans he had for the growth of the partnership. I purchased two investment properties through them and these houses were completed by July 2007, as per the contract. Having seen that Novocastria delivered on their promises and were people of integrity I decided that I would purchase another investment property. This completed January 08. I have been delighted with the professionalism, drive and integrity and I have had no problems in recommending Novocastria to my friends and family who have also taken the opportunity to invest for their future with the partnership. I have continued to invest with Novocastria and hope to continue my relationship with them well into their future. I believe that they have come a long way in the last year in developing themselves into a first class company that offers excellent investment opportunities." 
Ian Broadbent 

And on page 4 of their brochure, adjacent to the gleaming bathroom faucets, Novocastria Developments shouts:-



And if readers want to know more, well, all they have to do is contact the well-known property development company Castle & Gatehouse, as advised in the Novocastria Developments brochure on page 12:-

Another glass of plonk, Sir? Madam?