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A dating app scammer has lost a bid to change his plea after claiming in court it was not a “free and voluntary confession”.

Rick McLeod, 74, returned before the County Court of Victoria on Thursday as Judge Peter Rozen rejected his effort as “not in the interest of justice”.

The Victorian man pleaded guilty to three counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception and one count of obtaining property by deception in March last year before having a change of heart.

During subsequent court hearings, McLeod flip-flopped several times between wanting to plead not guilty and wanting to maintain his plea.

Previously, the court was told McLeod scammed four women out of about $180,000 between 2017 and 2019 by offering fake investment opportunities.

He met three of the women on the dating app Oasis, while the fourth was at a Melbourne pub.

At a September hearing on whether to allow the change of plea, McLeod claimed not allowing the change would be a “miscarriage of justice”.

He told the court he’s pleaded guilty without proper legal advice from his former barrister, Tim Marsh — who he claimed to only have met for the first time the day he entered guilty pleas.

He complained about the quality of legal advice he’d received and said he had “no idea” why he’d pleaded guilty.

Mr Marsh, who gave evidence, said he went through the indictment with McLeod and explained the court process.

He said McLeod was an “active participant” in efforts to resolve the case and met with him prior to the arraignment, sending notes of that meeting to the instructing solicitor.

Rejecting all of McLeod’s claims, Judge Rozen told the court there was a “clear conflict” between the evidence of McLeod and Mr Marsh.

“Mr McLeod was evasive and did not have a clear memory of events,” he said.

“The evidence is consistent with the process having been explained to him … I reject each of the grounds on which Mr McLeod wishes to change his plea.”

Judge Rozen said he’d been impressed by Mr Marsh’s testimony and clear memory of the events, finding McLeod’s plea was consistent with a rational man who was taking advantage of a prosecution offer to reduce the number of charges he was facing.

McLeod will return to court next month for a pre-sentence hearing.

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