Sunday, 31 March 2013

£1/4M Cocaine Consignment In Two Tins Of Tomatoes

A middle-aged cocaine smuggler, caught sneaking £257,000 worth of the drug - hidden inside two tins of tomatoes – through Gatwick Airport, has been jailed for four years.

Patrick Shorthouse, 53, of Chingley Close, Bromley had just stepped off a flight from Antigua when his luggage was searched by officers from the UK Border Agency.

He pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court (pictured) to importing 964 gms of cocaine on January 17.

The court heard Shorthouse, who is diabetic and suffers with high blood pressure, was tempted by the offer of a free ten-day holiday, plus £300 spending money.

His lawyer Keith Goodhand said: “There is a sense of disbelief as to where he finds himself,” adding his client has been in custody since his arrest.

“He is terrified of these proceedings and keeps his head down in prison.”

Shorthouse's wife passed away in January, last year and the court was told he turned to alcohol and cannabis, abusing both.

“He is a very lonely man. He did not know the weight or value of the consignment.”  

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Spanish Nurse Caged For Smuggling Cocaine

A cash-strapped Spanish nurse, who smuggled £380,000 worth of cocaine into Gatwick Airport on New Year's Eve, has been jailed for four years.

Single-mum Yolanda Lopez Avila, 39, had 4.7 kilos of the drug impregnated into the plastic lining of her suitcases and claims she agreed to be a courier for just €1,000.

“She is indicative of the chronic circumstances that exist in some parts of southern europe,” he lawyer Mr. Matthew Pardoe told Croydon Crown Court (pictured).

“She was living at home with her ageing mother, her sister, who was not working, and she has a son aged sixteen who has special needs.”

First-time offender Lopez Avila pleaded guilty to importing cocaine on December 31, last year after stepping off a flight from St. Lucia and attempting to board a connection to Valencia.

She was caught after a drug sniffer dog indicated the presence of an illegal substance in her suitcases and collapsed after she was stopped.

Lopez Avila lost her income as a geriatric nurse in September, last year when her patient passed away.

“She had no knowledge or control over the drugs she was importing, she was told to bring a bag back and was given the suitcases,” explained Mr. Pardoe.

“She did it for the money, of course she did. The pressure was financial and she was clearly na├»ve and when she was arrested for these offences she collapsed.”

“What a sad story this is,” announced the Recorder of Croydon Warwick McKinnon. “Here you have a professional woman, very highly thought of, who has lost her job and been tempted to do this.

“You did this with your eyes open and did it for the money. This is a sorry case.”

Friday, 29 March 2013

Thieving Ex-NHS Carer Dodges Jail Yet Again

A disgraced ex-NHS carer, who stole cash from the “extremely vulnerable” 72 year-old man she was looking after, has received her second suspended prison sentence.

Bibi Leeming, 62, of Shifford Path, Perry Vale, Lewisham deliberately short-changed the victim, who has severe learning difficulties, after he entrusted her with his money.

The prosecution were forced to drop a charge of stealing £11,793 because of evidential difficulties and she pleaded guilty to the theft of £130 from Orpington OAP Trevor McDowall on December 13, 2011.

Leeming was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, ordered to perform 150 hours community service and banned from working with vulnerable adults for a year.

Four years ago she was sentenced to four months, suspended for two years, after a £12,381 swindle on the NHS when she moonlighted in a similar carer's job while receiving sick pay from Bromley Primary Trust.

Prosecutor Mr. Tim Forster told Croydon Crown Court: “Mr. McDowell is an extremely vulnerable gentleman and the defendant started to care for him in the summer of 2009, not long after she was sentenced for dishonesty.

“She was paid by Mr. McDowell on a private basis and made weekly trips with him to the shops and bank to withdraw funds for his living expenses.”

Staff at the victim's residential home became suspicious Leeming was stealing thousands of pounds and a “sting operation” was executed by Bromley Police's Safeguarding Adults at Risk team.

“They took care to note the serial numbers of the banknotes in Mr. McDowell's flat and with the co-operation of the Nationswide, the numbers to be issued from his account,” explained Mr. Forster.

Leeming withdrew £400 cash and was later arrested at Mr. McDowell's flat.

“The money on her was examined and she had a mixture of notes. Some of it was cash from Mr. McDowell's tin, some from the Nationwide and some of her own.”

Leeming had given the victim only £270 change for the £400.

The victim was dreading giving evidence on the charge Leeming stole £11,793 during the five months she worked for him.

“Mr. McDowall was extremely relieved when told about her guilty plea,” said Mr. Forster.

The court heard Leeming has always worked as a carer and previous employers include the Leonard Cheshire Disability Group and the Bromley Autistic Trust.

She was said to be “ashamed by her behaviour” and is currently on anti-depressants.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Web-Cam Perv Facing Jail For Underage Abuse

A web-cam pervert, who exposed himself to two 15 year-old girls on the internet and then met and abused one of them, was yesterday told he will be going to prison.

First-time offender Benjamin Spratt, 28, (pictured) of Evelyn Place, Chelmsford, Essex will also be assessed as to how dangerous he is to underage girls and be made subject to a Sexual Offenders Prevention Order.

He pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to inciting a girl to engage in sexual activity and engaging in sexual activity himself, via a web-cam, on October 27, 2011.

He also admitted meeting the girl after online grooming on October 28, with intent to have sexual intercourse, and two charges of engaging in sexual activity with her.

Spratt also pleaded guilty to inciting a second girl to engage in sexual activity via a web-cam on October 24, 2011 and two counts of attempting to meet her after sexual grooming.

“Custody is inevitable and I want a dangerousness assessment,” announced the Recorder of Croydon Warwick McKinnon.

“These are very serious matters. I do not see how I can avoid a prison sentence.”

Spratt was bailed until April 24 on condition he is not alone on private premises with a child under sixteen without their parent or guardian and he had to sign the Sex Offenders Register before leaving court.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Cops Grab Stash In South London

An Oxford drug-user, caught with £1,800 worth of cannabis in South London and with individul £10 bags at his home when it was searched by police, will be sentenced on May 9.

Jumoke Brewster, 35, of Bayswater Road told police he smoked large quantities of the drug and sold some of it on.

He pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to possession of 879 gms of cannabis, with intent to supply, in Ambleside Avenue, Streatham on Janaury 30 and possession of six small amounts, worth £60, at his home address the next day.

The court (pictured) heard Brewster told officers: “I smoke a lot of cannabis. I buy in bulk and would have smoked most of it and maybe sold a small amount on.”

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Nightclub Gunman Blasted Student During Row Over Girls

A dangerous gunman shot a fellow nightclub customer in the stomach when the victim tried to save his female friends from the man's unwanted advances.
Leslie Ammah, 23, (pictured) was convicted of blasting the 19 year-old university student outside the South Beach Bar, Brixton Hill in the early hours of September 3, 2011.
An Old Bailey jury fround Ammah, of Copeland House, Lambeth Walk, Lambeth guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm and possessing a firearm, with intent to endanger life, and he will be sentenced on April 2.
The victim noticed that two of his female friends were being hassled by a group of men, who were insisting they come with them.

The victim, concerned for the safety of his friends, intervened and shepherded the women towards their car.

The suspect group became angry and a fight began.

Ammah then pulled out a handgun and fired at the victim, hitting him in the stomach.

The victim collapsed to the ground and the suspect group fled towards their Audi TT.

The victim was taken to Kings College Hospital and later recovered from his injury.

Enquiries led to the identification of a member of the suspect group and then the gunman, Ammah.

He was arrested during an armed operation on 24 January 2012 and subsequently charged.

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Paul Davis, from Trident, said: "The victim had enjoyed a night out and intervened in a situation simply because he was concerned for the safety of his friends.

"His act of kindness led to a situation that escalated and ended with him being shot in the stomach by Ammah, who was armed.

"I am pleased that extensive enquiries led to Ammah's identification and he now faces a hefty prison sentence."

Monday, 25 March 2013

Businessman Must Pay £170K Or Go To Prison For Illegal Animal Medicines Scam

The owner of an Essex riding school - convicted of playing a role in a £6m illegal veterinary medicines scam - has been ordered to pay £170,713.43 - the profits of his illicit trade.

Road haulage boss Peter Lock, 54, of Knaves Hall, Warren Lane, Doddinghurst, Brentwood owned the Colmar Farm Riding School, Colmar Farm, Weald Park Way, South Weald when it was raided.

It is not known if he is still the proprietor.

He was convicted by a Croydon Crown Court jury of fifteen charges of illegally importing and distributing unauthorised or prescription-only veterinary drugs and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to perform 250 hours community service work.

The court ordered Lock to pay the money in full by September 17 or serve two years and six months imprisonment under Proceeds of Crime Act legislation.

He was also ordered to pay £15,000 costs.

A DEFRA investigation revealed the illegal trade in veterinary medicines including anti-inflammatories, anabolic steroids, tranquillisers, antibiotics, sedatives, painkillers and other miscellaneous products administered to horses, household pets and farm animals. 

The illegal medication came from the ringleaders, married couple Ronald Meddes, 72, and Regine Lansley, 61, - nicknamed 'Ronnie and Reggie', the bosses of France-based 'Eurovet'.

Lock had told the jury he bought the riding school, but was not involved in the day-to-day running of the business since 2002.

He is the named company secretary for the school and his ex-wife Michelle - who was not arrested - is the listed company director.

"I had nothing to do with it at all," insisted Lock. "It is a mystery to me, it has nothing to do with me," but the jury rejected his account.

When asked why his name appeared on a Eurovet client list along with his phone number, Lock replied: "I can't answer that.

"I never went down the stables a great deal. My wife's words were: 'You run your business and I'll run mine'."

He suggested a mystery man known only as J Hawkins, who rented a stable at the school, may have been responsible for ordering the illicit shipments, but this individual has never been traced by the police or DEFRA.

The court heard the 18-horse school received deliveries of up to half a ton of medication.

Lock was accused of buying £155,000 of veterinary medicines between January 2004 and September 2008 and Judge Nicholas Ainley told him: "I'm sure you were acting as an agent."

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Rock Star Bryan Ferry's Son Merlin Caught With Knife

Merlin Ferry leaving Isleworth Crown Court 

The privileged son of rock star Bryan Ferry, who told police to go away and "investigate real crime" after he was caught with a knife, heard he will be locked-up in Wormwood Scrubs if he is caught with a blade again.

Merlin Ferry, 22, was arrested for the second time in two years for having a knife, but complained it was only a problem on London council estates and moaned about having to get up early to travel from Shropshire for court appearances.

He pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court to possessing a bladed article in Lots Road, Chelsea on September 29, last year and was placed on a twelve-month community order, which includes 100 hours community service and was ordered to pay £500 costs.

"Two things worry me in sentencing you today," Judge Paul Dugdale told degree student Ferry. "The first thing is that fifteen months before this incident you had a pretty close call in a similar matter and I would have hoped the penny would have dropped.

"Secondly the degree of attitude you have showed. You told the police they should go and investigate real crime and not waste their time with this.

"The probation officer says you showed no remorse for the offences or the issue of public security or costs to the public purse and remained pre-occupied by what you described as a waste of time and an inconvenience because you had to set off very early from Shropshire."

Ferry, who gave an address in Bellefields Road, Brixton was previously arrested in Manchester for possessing a Gurkha knife, which he had strapped to his leg, but the charge was later dropped.

"One of my nightmares is that I give a lenient sentence to someone for having a bladed article and read a few months later that they have stabbed someone," Judge Dugdale told Ferry, who is currently studying in Barcelona.

"You have got everything going for you, you have hard a great education, you are going to university and have a life in front of you that I hope is enjoyable and successful. You are lucky.

"Those that have the chance to make a success of their lives without the normal hardship of life are very lucky and it has taken a bit of time for you to realise that luck and good fortune does not take you out of the normal world or that normal rules do not apply to you.

"You are just another young man carrying a knife and that makes you very frightening to people in West London and that is why people think I should send you to prison.

"If you carry a bladed article again in public again you will spend six months of your life in Wormwood Scrubs and the consequences on your lucky life so far will be devastating. don't think that will not happen, it will."

Ferry had been bailed for the completion of a pre sentence report and the probation officer who interviewed him noted Ferry "lacked insight into the offence," and said of knife crime: "That's to do with London and people on estates."

Prosecutor Mr. James O'Connell told the court it was 4pm when police stopped Ferry driving his uninsured silver Saab car and decided to conduct a drug search.

"A decision was made to search Mr. Ferry and when asked if he had anything in his pocket that may cause possible injury he said: 'Yes' and pulled out the lock-knife from his jacket pocket.

"As a result he was arrested and the vehicle seized as it came back on the PNC check as having no valid insurance.

"He was slightly rude during his arrest and said: "You can just unarrest me now.

"He said his friend had brought it back from Greece and given it to him as a present."

Ferry's lawyer Karina Arden said: "This young man comes from a good middle-class family and he is in his second year at university.

"That knife was given to him in the flat as a present by that other young man and there is no question that the knife was ever used.

"It had been bought in Greece and may be seen as an ornamental knife. He thought it was just a pen knife.

"There is no intention to use that knife. It would probably have ended up in the bin, my client not really wanting it.

"It had been in his possession since lunchtime that day and he should have known better. He had not even opened it that day.

"He has got a bright future, he is an intelligent your man and the penny has dropped. There is a change in his attitude."

Urging the court not to make any financial penalty Miss Arden said: "It seems like he may be highly wealthy from his background, but he just has an allowance of £100 per week and gets his rent paid and has a facility to top up to £500-£600 without having to borrow from other people."

Judge Dugdale told Ferry: "You could walk down the corridor her at Isleworth and go into a courtroom and hear a case where someone had their face opened by a knife and were scarred for life.

"That was caused by somebody who had a knife, problems arose, things happened and it ended up being used.

"You know of the number of deaths and murders in London that are caused because people have knives in their pockets and somebody is left dead and that is why there are a large number of people calling for a minimum of one year's custody for somebody caught with a knife."

Ferry was given six penalty points for having no insurance, bringing him to a total of sixteen and he was disqualified from driving for six months.

The judge agreed to suspend the start of his community service until June so he can complete his Barcelona studies.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

'Black Dragon' Cyber Criminal Jailed For £6.5m UN Carbon Credits Hack

Matthew Beddoes & one of his online profile pics

A cyber-criminal nicknamed the 'Black Dragon',  who masterminded an audacious attempt to hack into the United Nations computer systems to steal £6.5m worth of carbon credits, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Matthew Beddoes, 32, created a rogue 'Trojan' programme he called Zeus to transfer 426,108 Certified Emission Reduction credits from an account on the U.N's Clean Development Mechanism Registry in Bonn, Germany - thwarted when an incorrect account number was used. 

Beddoes then targeted the Spanish Carbon Credit Registry and 350,000 European Union Allowances were transferred to a UK broker, who sold €89,000 worth to BP before the remainder were frozen.

He pleaded guilty at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court to six counts of conspiring to do unauthorised acts, with intent to impair computer programmes, four counts of unauthorised access to business computers, three counts of possessing electronic files containing credit card information and one count of acquiring criminal property on or before November 17, 2011.

He was recruited by Jasdeep Randhawa, 38, of Aber Road, Leicester, who received twenty-one months imprisonment and his friend Jandeep Sangha, 28, of New Street, Leicester, who laundered the stolen money, received twelve months, suspended for two years, was fined £1,000 and ordered to complete 120 hours community service.

Shrewsbury-born Beddoes, (pictured) of Jubilee Avenue, Donnington, Telford, who also nicknamed himself 'Cyber Commander' and 'Secret Squirrel' boasted of his hacking skills online, with his Facebook name 'Matty Net Jackal Beddoes' an 'Old Skool Hacker.'

He spent a short time living in South Tidworth, Wiltshire after setting up Alladin Technologies, a computer security company, specialising in removing malicious software and viruses.

His lawyer Mr. Mark Cotter told the court: "He has had an itinerant lifestyle, bouncing from place to place, but always with the company of his laptop.

"He first became interested in computers at the age of five and if circumstances were different his skills may have been channelled into more lawful use.

"He started his first steps in hacking at the age of sixteen  and is in some ways addicted. He has immersed himself into online computing and hacking and it became a challenge.

"It appear to have been a highly-addictive hobby, a hobby that has ended with him breaking the law. There is a culture of bragging within this community and it has a fantasy element to it.

"You get the feeling with the names Black Dragon and Cyber Commander you are dealing with a James Bond-style secret organisation when in reality it is a bloke on his laptop in a friend's house living an itinerant lifestyle.

"You could describe him as a master online locksmith and he advertised his services to find new challenges and was approached by Mr. Randhawa on the internet.

"The proposal that was put forward in relation to carbon credits was a new challenge for him and he formulated an effective way of putting the operation into effect.

"It came as an enormous surprise to him that it ultimately did work. He did not think in a million years that anyone would open the email and the attachment, particularly in an organisation like the United Nations."

Beddoes received £6,250 for the smaller sale of carbon credits to BP.

"I am sure he would be an extremely valuable asset to any company, telling them where their weaknesses lie and how to stop people getting in," added Mr. Cotter.

Coalminer's son Beddoes, who left school after failing all his GCSE's has been in custody  since his arrest on November 17. 2011. "He has found his time in prison difficult and feels he does not belong there, that he doesn't fit in there."

On Twitter in November 2010 he boasted: "I'm a web/network hacker that is looking to sell my excess data or trade for services. Here is a list of data I am selling for now and more.

"On a mission to code these apps, hack three sites, make some dolla on da forex and debug some router firmwares. Virtually unstoppable."

Randhawa pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to secure unauthorised access to computers and two counts of conspiring to impair computer programmes between June 4 and November 17, 2011.

Sangha pleaded guilty to conspiring to disguise criminal property and acquiring criminal property on or before November 17, 2011.

Judge Nicholas Price told Beddoes:  "From a career, which started with no promise academically, your interest in computers started at an extraordinarily young age.

"You possess considerable IT skills that if harnessed legitimately should have provided you with a rewarding job and a substantial salary.

"You would have been an asset to any company, to point out potential abuses in their computer systems and it is a tragedy that you abused those skills in such a criminal way."

When arrested Beddoes was in possession of 3,000 credit card numbers, 500 email addresses of potential 'phishing' scam victims and he had accessed the computers of HSBC, Virgin, LloydsTSB and other companies.

"You adopted a number of cyber tools to attack websites and to obtain carbon credits as well as usernames, passwords, email addresses and bank details.

"The powerful malware you employed was a so-called Trojan called 'Zeus' which when injected into computer systems was highly-efficient at stealing information."

Friday, 22 March 2013

Bangladeshi Immigration Scammer Gets Eight Years

An illegal immigration fixer, who made thousands of pounds out of successfully arranging for unqualified Bangladeshi families to move to the UK, has been jailed for eight years.

Shuhel Chowdhury, 48, of Arragon Road, East Ham used forged documents and lied on oath before Immigration and Asylum Tribunal's to get six bogus family visas.

He originally applied for nine, which would have seen thirty Bangladeshi's arrive in the UK.

Chowdhury (pictured) was arrested by the UK Border Agency's criminal and financial investigation team in September 2011

Charging the families several thousand pounds for each application he produced documents purporting to show the applicants had sufficient funds to support themselves.

He was convicted after a Croydon Crown Court trial of nine counts of assisting unlawful immigration.

Chowdhury also altered utility bills and bank statements and his fingerprints and signature were found on some of the incriminating documents.

He told a pack of lies to the jury during the ten-day trial, blaming the illicit scheme on a mystery Bangladeshi he allowed to stay at his home.

When the nine application were initially rejected he gave evidence in person under oath to the tribunals and six were overturned and the bogus applicants and their relatives remain in the UK.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Mortgage Broker And Dodgy Businessman Sentenced

Mortgage Broker John Boyce

A mortgage broker and a businessman, who became involved in supplying bogus references to support weak loan applications, have both escaped prison with suspended sentences.

They are: John Boyce, 64, (pictured) of Wickham Avenue, Sutton and Rafael Choudhury, 37, of Holcombe Road, Tottenham, who triggered the police investigation when he ripped-off a customer of £1,750.

Officers investigating that complaint stumbled upon the pairs' sideline of boosting mortgage applications with bogus documents such as payslips, company accounts and other proof of earnings.

Prosecutor Mr. Andrew Mazibrada told Croydon Crown Court: “This was a protracted and complex fraud investigation that started in 2009 and the conduct of these two was the catalyst, but they play a small part in a wider fraud. Their part in it was to open the door.

“Boyce was a Financial Services Authority-approved mortgage broker and where there were difficult applications that could not be fixed legitimately he turned to Choudhury for forged documents that were certified and submitted to financial institutions.

“These mortgages would not have been granted otherwise and there was a risk of loss if they were defaulted on.”
Boyce received £300 for each successful mortgage application.

Police only became involved when a customer of Choudhury's debt consolidation business walked into Tooting Police Station and complained he had lost £1,750 to the defendant who took the fee, but did nothing to reduce to complainant's £30,000 arrears.

“Mr. Boyce was running a legitimate business with an illicit part to it,” said Mr. Mazibrada, adding the defendant had been cautioned by the police in 2006 for forging an insurance document.

Chowdhury, the court was told, has since filed for bankruptcy.

Boyce was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and Chowdhury also received a suspended sentence. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Mayfair Death: Man Charged With Murder

A man charged with murdering wealthy socialite Roberto Troyan, who was battered to death at his exclusive Mayfair flat, was remanded in custody today to appear at the Old Bailey in two days time.

Financial advisor David Jeffs, 36, of Larch Close, Arnold, Nottingham appeared for a brief hearing at Croydon Magistrates' Court and was remanded in custody until a preliminary hearing on friday.

Mr. Troyan, 63, (pictured) lived alone at his Mount Street flat after the death of his partner, interior designer Anthony Feldman, whose clients included Princess Michael of Kent.

His body was discovered on March 8.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Airport Cocaine Seizure: Texas Woman Charged

A Texas resident, charged with smuggling cocaine into the United Kingdom after she was stopped at London's Gatwick Airport, has denied the allegation.

Andrea Dee Crossen, 46, of Waterside Court, Addison – ten miles north of downtown Dallas - was stopped and held by officers from the UK Border Agency and has been in custody ever since.

She pleaded not guilty when she appeared at Croydon Crown Court (pictured) to being concerned in the importation of a class A drug, namely cocaine, on December 30, last year.

She appeared in a secure glass-panelled dock for a few minutes to enter her plea and was remanded in custody by Judge Nicholas Ainley for a trial expected to start the week beginning April 29.

The trial could have begun four weeks earlier, but Crossen's defence lawyer asked for extra time to prepare a medical report.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Paedo's Secret Exposed By Doctor

A paedophile, who thought he had got away with molesting three young girls in a two-decades old series of abuse, has been jailed after his doctor reported him to the police.

Father-of-two Kevin Andrews, 52, of Erskine Road, Sutton talked his way out of trouble when accused ten years ago, but eventually confessed and was caged.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of indecently assaulting one girl between August 1, 1992 and August 31, 1996.

Andrews, who mariage has broken down as a result of the case, also pleaded guilty to two charges of indecently assaulting a second girl between August 1, 1997 and January 1, 2000.

He also asked for his abuse of a third victim to be taken into consideration.

Bespectacled and grey-haired Andrews, who moved in with his mother when his marriage broke down, was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court (pictured) to two years imprisonment.

The court heard he would read one of his victims bedtime stories before groping her, tormenting the child from the age of seven.

He would read the girl a story before turning the bedroom lights off, getting into bed with her, and rubbing himself on her.

Andrews groped his other victim so frequently she thought it was normal.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Globe-Trotting Benefit Cheat Yachtsman Jailed

A benefits cheat, who sailed the Atlantic in his yacht while receiving incapacity payments and illegally pocketing nearly £30,000 in housing and council tax handouts, has been jailed for four months.

Graham Axford, 58, who was exposed in a BBC Panorama programme called 'Britain on the Fiddle' secretly owned a property in Wales and part-owned a French farmhouse in Normandy, which he restored.

During the fraud Axford, of Belgrave Road, South Norwood, who has claimed incapacity benefit since 1995, sailed his £25,000 private 42-foot yacht from South Carolina to the Azores in the North Atlantic - a journey of 2,900 miles.

"On any view you have a joint interest in or owned part of a home in France by 2003 and in 2007 you declared to the council that you were not paying a mortgage and that was a blatant lie," Croydon Crown Court Judge Peter Gow QC told him.

"You were paying a mortgage on a property in Wales that you owned and later sold, although it was in negative equity.

"This was a fraud carried out over a significant period of time and you have been overpaid benefits as a result of your dishonest claims."

He tried to lie his way out of trouble during his trial, clashing with the prosecutor and swallowing medication in the witness box while claiming: "I'm trying not to get angry here, you are trying to twist this.

"I've had this from the council for two bloody years and I have just had to take a pill to stop my heart racing."

He was convicted of three charges of dishonestly making a false representation to the London Borough of Croydon on a housing benefit and council tax benefit application form by failing to declare property ownership in France and Wales, once in 2003 and twice in 2007, resulting in a loss of £29,456.55.

During the fiddle keen cyclist Axford, who stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the 2010 local elections, deliberately kept his ownership of a house in Commercial Road, Llanhilleth, Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent a secret along with his interest in the French farmhouse, which he regularly visited.

He bought the Welsh property for cash in 1984 and claimed in court he had transferred complete ownership to his ex-wife Suzanne in 1997 and the Land Registry were wrong in recording him as the owner.

"Have I told a deliberate lie? No, and I resent the accusation," said Axford before he broke down in the witness box.

No charges were brought regarding Axford's incapacity claim, which he made for a back injury following a motorcycle accident, but it did not stop him participating in a twenty-four hour time-trial championship two years ago as a member of Addiscombe Cycling Club.

Not expecting a custodial sentence he cycled in for his sentencing today and his bike remains locked to the court's railings.

Axford failed to comply with a confiscation questionnaire and Judge Gow told him: "Responsibility to comply with the court order is yours Mr. Axford and the court has the ultimate sanction of imprisonment if you fail to comply."

Mr. Len Furlong, defending, said: "He is a man with health problems, cardiac heart disease and a degenerative spine.

"He does work within the community, carries out duties in a soup kitchen, volunteers at a crisis centre, does cycle training for the disabled and on friday's works in a charity shop for the blind."

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Cannabis Smuggler Jailed For £50K Stash

A cannabis smuggler, caught at Gatwick Airport with £50,000 worth of the drug disguised as sweets, soap and various cleaning products, has been jailed for twelve months.

Horace Blackwood, 55, of Albert Road, South Norwood, pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court (pictured) to importing 18.27 kilos of cannabis on December 17, last year.

He was stopped by UK Border Agency officers as he rode an assistance buggy to catch a connecting flight to Manchester.

Inside his luggage were two plastic bags containing the disguised cannabis.

In Montego Bay, Jamaica Blackwood was caught trying to smuggle a small amount of cannabis onto a UK flight in 2008 and was fined £50.

The court heard the ex-youth worker had a drug habit, but after beating his addiction relapsed and then went on to suffer depression, diabetes and heart problems.

Blackwood felt under pressure to raise cash so his sick mother could return to her native Jamaica and owed money to loan sharks.

“The most sensible thing you have done is plead guilty,” Judge Nicholas Ailey told him.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Woman Groped By Passer-By

A Bromley man with mental health issues, whose illness lowers his inhibitions, couldn't resist touching a neighbour's rear as she leaned into her car to adjust a child's seat.

Kevin Rhodes, 48, of Widmore Road pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court (pictured) yesterday to assaulting Donna Gavin in nearby Florence Road on October 12, last year.

The court heard the woman was leaning into her vehcicle to adjust the child car seat when Rhodes, who was strolling past, reached out and touched her just below the bottom.

“She thought it was a friend and turned around and said: 'hello,' but it was this defendant and they were strangers to each other,” explained the prosecutor.

“She followed him in the car and took a photo of him with her phone and took it to the police, where he was recognised by a local officer.”

Rhodes, who is bi-polar, was questioned about the incident, but had no recollection.

The court heard the condition the first-time offender has reduces his inhibitions and he has been hospitalised three times with symptoms of mania.

Rhodes was conditionally discharged for twelve months.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Benefit Cheat Rented Out Spare Rooms

A benefit cheat, who rented out accommodation at his comfortable three-bedroom detached house via the UK's largest spare rooms website during a £15,000 fiddle, has avoided prison with a suspended sentence.

Jobless James Alves, 40, inherited the tenancy to the family home after his mother's cancer death in 2009 and let multiple rooms he advertised on - typically banking monthly rental payments of £450 and £500.

First-time offender Alves, of Manor Road, Cheam pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of a change of circumstances in his Jobseekers Allowance claim, namely his rental income from sub-tenants between November 28, 2009 and November 12, 2010.

He also pleaded guilty to similarly failing to notify the London Borough of Sutton in relation to his claims for housing benefit and council tax benefit between August 8, 2011 and June 29, last year and making a false statement to the DWP on December 7, 2010.

Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court heard when Alves signed-on for unemployment benefit he declared having two young children, which investigators later discovered were his nephews.

He was caught after the National Fraud Initiative discovered his partner was employed by the NHS and a surveillance operation was mounted, which recorded the various tenants coming and going from the address.

When arrested, Alves, who was overpaid £15,173, said: "I put my hands up. I shouldn't have done it."

He claimed he had insufficient funds to maintain the house and under pressure to raise money decided to let the rooms secretly.

District Judge Timothy Stone told Alves: "There are all sort of mechanisms used here that aggravate the facts.

"It is a serious matter, over a long period of time, and large sums were obtained."

Alves was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, and was ordered to complete 180 hours community service work.

Compensation will be pursued separately.