A RECORD-breaking yachtsman has been jailed for eight years after conning three women out of almost £70,000.

Serial swindler Peter Berry, 51, of New Forest Drive, Brockenhurst, was sent to prison after a court heard how he duped single women into handing over huge sums of cash.

The 20-stone confidence trickster was dubbed "Shrek" by one of his victims because of his likeness to the cartoon ogre.

In 2001, Berry set a world record after skippering a trimaran from Plymouth to La Rochelle in France - ten hours faster than the previous best time.

A year later he helped break his own record by sailing the route with the US adventurer Steve Fossett on the entrepreneur’s £8 million catamaran.

But he was jailed for five years at Truro Crown Court in 2010 for fleecing women who included a lawyer, a GP and a hedge-fund manager.

Police believe he may have stolen a total of £2 million from more than 100 people over a 20-year period.

Berry was released on licence in 2012 and soon met the first of his three new victims after finding them on dating websites.

Having gained their trust the smooth-talking fraudster persuaded them to “lend” him thousands of pounds for non-existent business deals.

They handed over amounts of £15,000, £18,000 and £35,000 and will never see the money again.

In January 2014 Berry’s crimes came to light and police went to a flat at East Preston in West Sussex, where he was thought to be staying at the time, but the property was empty.

Following an appeal on the BBC Crimewatch Roadshow, officers were told he was living in the New Forest and using the name Jonathan Jones.

Berry was arrested in October 2015 and has now been jailed for eight years following a four-day trial at Inner London Crown Court, where he was convicted of seven counts of fraud.

Mr Recorder Julian Malins QC told him: “You pleaded not guilty and told a pack of lies in the witness box.”

Speaking after the case PC Astra Barnes, of Sussex Police, said: “Berry has once again shown that he is a very plausible and convincing thief.

“He has a perverse skill in identifying women who have independent means and savings, but who can still be vulnerable to his specious charm.

“We are glad that the court has recognised the seriousness of his repeated offending and we would like to thank the three victims who have shown great courage in giving evidence and have maintained their confidence in us to find this man and bring him to justice.

“He can come across as genuine and personable, but in reality he is a serial thief.

“Our advice to anyone approached by someone you have recently met and do not really know, and who asks you for money, is always to be very cautious.“Stop, take your time, think, and check, taking independent advice, whether personal or professional.”