Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Cocaine Dealer Tangoed & Smashed

A cocaine dealer, who hid eight wraps of the drug inside a fake can of Tango, has been locked-up for three years and four months.
Michael Ballard, 22, (pictured) of Baker Street, Enfield was caught by City Of London cops after a car he was travelling in with pals was pulled over.
When his north London home was searched more cocaine was found along with drug paraphernalia, plus evidence of dealing to a wide range of users via his mobile phone records.
The Old Bailey heard police stopped the vehicle on September 6, last year after an Automated Number Plate Recognition activation.
Officers searched the car and found a ‘dummy’ can of Tango hidden under the seat where Ballard had been sitting. 
Hidden inside the can were eight wrapped up Lotto slips, each containing cocaine. 
Police Constable Thomas Hayball said: “Ballard was responsible for dealing drugs to a lot of people, by removing him from the equation, further drug related crimes will be prevented. 
“His guilty plea and the sentenced passed at court reflects the strong evidence gathered by City of London Police and I am very pleased with the outcome.” 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Bankrupt Conman Jailed For £1.5M Film Finance Fraud

A bankrupt fraudster is starting a seven-year prison sentence for a £1.5m scam on a movie company, which believed he held the keys to unlocking millions in film financing.

Sencer Sevket, 54, (pictured) of St. Katherine's Dock, Wapping convinced Forrest Motion Pictures the loan would help secure £30m of future film funding from investors in the Far East.

However, he never intended to repay the £1.5m loan, which he promised would be honoured in sixty days and the promised funding never materialised either.

Sevket was convicted at the Old Bailey of fraud by false representation and possession of articles for use in fraud after an investigation by City of London Police.

In September 2009 Sevket, representing South Korean company KSI Ejder Korea Inc, agreed the £30 million private financing agreement with Forrest Motion Pictures.

However, in April 2010, prior to the film funding arrangements being finalised, Sevket requested the loan, promising the repayment obligation was backed by a major bank.

He was arrested during a police raid on his home in August, where officers seized 40 million euros worth of promissory notes along with details of his company and personal accounts held with four banks.

Detective Sergeant Rob Stirling said: “Sevket persuaded the film production company to hand him a massive loan by dangling the cherry of tens of millions of pounds of future funding. 

“He had no intention of paying this money back, spinning a web of deception in an attempt to keep him out of trouble.

“Thanks to the City of London Police investigation he is now in his rightful place, behind bars, with his seven year sentence sending out a strong warning to other people thinking of trying to pull a similar trick.”

Monday, 29 July 2013

Burglar Jailed For "Trail Of Destruction"

A heartless burglar, who left a “trail of destruction” in two City flats he ransacked in the search for thousands of pounds worth of valuables, has been locked-up.
Mark Tomas Goldsmith, 47, (pictured) helped himself to the occupants' laptops, jewellery and a camera during the Square Mile break-ins.
The Old Bailey heard Goldsmith was caught on CCTV burgling an address in Wormwood Street and as the investigation progressed it was obvious he also broke into a flat in Little Britain on May 28.
He was jailed for four-and-a-half years by a judge, who condemned his “trail of destruction caused by the havoc he wreaked.”
Detective Sergeant Mark Simmons of the City of London Police Burglary Squad said: “This sentencing provides reassurance to our residents in the Square Mile and will prevent Goldsmith from committing further burglaries in the City.” 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Childhood Pals Caught During £178K Cocaine Swoop By Gangbusting Cops

Three childhood friends, who turned to cocaine dealing and were caught with £178,000 worth of the drug during an undercover police operation, have been caged.

The trio splashed out on hiring luxury vehicles and  buying expensive jewellery and a five-star celebratory vacation, due to start the next day, was ruined by their capture.

Roofer Mark Boorman, 24, ( of Laurel Crescent, Romford and Toby Kallar, 26, (pic.mid.) of Airthrie Road, Ilford were convicted of conspiring to supply cocaine on or before July 19, last year and were each sentenced to seven years imprisonment. 

Daniel Skurr, 24, (pic.bottom) of Hornchurch Road, Hornchurch pleaded guilty to the charge, plus driving a VW van dangerously and while disqualified in Rush Green Road, Romford and received five years and four months.

Croydon Crown Court heard Boorman, despite having no obvious means of income, splurged on a Paris holiday and a £2,000 diamond engagement ring for his fiancĂ© and Kallar had spent £6,000 on hiring flash cars, won £18,000 gambling and paid £6,000 cash for the planned two-week vacation.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency watched Little Gerpins Lane, Upminster, where Kallar was sitting in his parked Vauxhall Astra.

"It is a remote location. There is nothing there other than some bins, it is a quiet country lane," said prosecutor Miss Susana Stevens. 

The vehicle was followed to Suttons Avenue, Hornchurch, where Skurr got out and chatted to another man.

All three defendants returned to the Little Gerpins Lane location, Skurr now driving a van and Boorman his Mercedes.

They set off "in convoy" and were stopped by police several miles away.

"Skurr accelerated hard and mounted the pavement and there is a police chase," explained Miss Stevens. "Skurr abandoned the van and was stopped and arrested on foot."

In the van police found one kilo of cocaine of 89% purity.

"The police officers drew their batons and approached Kallar as if they were going to smash his windscreen and ordered him to get out of his car.

"Boorman also mounted the pavement and tried to follow Skurr, but the police were too quick.

"They hammered on the front passenger-side window and he stopped the car and was arrested," added Miss Stevens.

Officers then searched the defendants homes and recovered "cash and luxuries."

"These three defendants were involved in and had been for some time in the supply of drugs, with all three of them working together.

"They stood to make a substantial financial gain and must have been close to the source because of the extremely high purity of the cocaine.

"They funded their lifestyle through the supply of drugs for some time.'

Judge Nicholas Ainley told the trio: "When you were all arrested, you Boorman and Kallar did what the police wanted, but you Skurr drove off and tried to escape and you could have killed two police officers.

"They had to jump out of the way to avoid a collision and Skurr was driving while disqualified for a drink-drive offence.

"You were all recruited by someone higher up and you were entrusted with the transfer of a kilo of cocaine of eighty-nine per cent purity."

Skurr's lawyer Miss Karina Arden told the court: "He panicked, knowing what the situation was. That is the reason for the driving and the trying to get away.

"He is full of regret as to how he has let his family down enormously. He comes from a nice family."

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Pub Glassing: Do You Know This Thug?

Police are hunting this late night thug, who hurled a glass at a pub customer – inflicting a nasty gash to the rear of the victim's head.

The suspect, who was riding a racer-style bike, approached two friends, aged 28 and 29, outside the Telegraph Pub, Telegraph Street, Moorgate at 11pm on June 14.

He flew into a rage after the men ignored his requests to use their phones and grabbed the 29 year-old around the throat and pushed him.

The assailant then picked up the glass and hurled it at the 28 year-old, causing the wound, and cycled off.

The suspect is described as a black man of medium build wearing a black peaked cap, a blue denim jacket with a light coloured shirt underneath and wore dark trousers.

Anyone with information should call the City of London Police on 020 7601 2222, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Assistant Boss Of Kids Centre Nicked Thousands

The assistant manager of a centre for children with learning difficulties, who defrauded thousands of pounds from the organisation, has escaped jail with a suspended sentence.

Beatrix Costa, 36, of Eleanor Court, Gillingham, Kent was employed by the Stockwell Community Resource Centre in south London.

The Studley Road centre runs weekly workshops for children with special needs, specifically targeting autism.

Costa was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court (pictured) to twelve months imprisonment, suspended for two years, was ordered to complete 240 hours community service work and obey a night time curfew for four months.

She originally appeared at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court charged with three counts of fraud by abuse of position between April 1, 2009 and September 7, 2011 in relation to £10,264, £12,104 and £3,000.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Brutal Burglar Killed Ex-Model And Actress Who Once Starred Opposite Roger Moore

A burglar, who stamped a blind pensioner to death during a night time break-in at her west London home, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Daniel Barnett, 20, of Holly House, Brentford was convicted of murdering 77 year-old Jean Farrar – a former model and actress - and will be locked-up for a minimum of thirty-two years.
The Old Bailey heard police were called to grandmother Jean's home in nearby Brook Road South at 2.00am on October 25, last year after reports of a disturbance at the address.
Inside, Jean, who lived alone, was found with severe head injuries and was pronounced dead later the same day.
She had been slammed against her hallway wall and Barnett repeatedly stamped on her head and neck until she stopped screaming.
A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as blunt trauma to the head and throat. 

Barnett was arrested within minutes of the incident close to the murder scene. 

Detective Chief Inspector Russell Taylor of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command (HSCC) said: "This was a horrendous attack on a vulnerable woman who lived alone.
“It was clear that Barnett targeted the address with a view to steal property. 

"Having disturbed Ms Farrar, he attacked her, inflicting dreadful injuries.
“This was a mindless, cowardly and unnecessarily cruel attack on an elderly lady in her own home." 

Her son, Jamie Farrar, said: “Our family's sense of pain and horror over losing my mother, Jean, in such a violent and brutal way is indescribable.
“Over the course of this trial we've heard the excruciating details of my mum's death, but we have heard almost nothing about her extraordinary life.
“Through this statement I hope to provide some small sense of who my mother was and how very much she was loved and what this vicious murder has done to our family.

“My mother led a fascinating life.
“After growing up during World War II in London, where she was unable to leave due to her father's job as a funeral director, Jean became a seamstress for the royal family (under Hardy Amies).
“She went on to be a model and actress, sharing the screen with Roger Moore in an episode of the TV show 'The Saint' and working as Hayley Mills' stand-in on numerous film projects.
“She ultimately became the devoted mother to my sister and me and the affectionate grandmother of three.
“She was passionate, funny, eccentric but above all loving. Jean loved life and would share this love with all those she talked to.

“Although my mum was well into her late seventies and clinically blind with only partial sight at the time of her murder, she was unquestionably still enjoying life.
“She loved going to films as well as the theatre and she continued to be a member of film and art discussion groups.
“She took great joy in attending all of her eldest granddaughter's dancing and singing performances.
“My mother continued to meet her friends on a daily basis at a local cafĂ© in Brentford, sharing meals with them as well as laughter and stories.
“She did all this despite the need to walk slowly and steady herself as she moved.
“She was truly a great exponent of living life to your fullest despite your own limitations.

“The impact of my mother's murder on our family has been immeasurable.
“No one can be prepared to lose their mother or grandmother in such a violent way.
“The memories that we shared with her will never be built upon.
“The plans that we had made together with her will never come true.
“The small events that are just part of everyday life: the phone calls, the chats over tea, all lost because of another person's selfish actions.
“All of this has been taken away from us by a person who doesn't even know us.
“A person who has shown himself to not care about anyone but himself.

“My mother never met her two youngest grandchildren; my two year old twins who I live with in the United States. who she was due to meet just a few weeks after she was murdered.
“They knew their Granny Jeannie from chats on Skype and cards and presents that she would send, but they will never meet her in person and know of the love and joy that she would have brought into their lives. 

“My sister loved caring for our mum and being able to give back to her just some of the care and support that she had herself received as a child.
“My Mum was my sister's birthing partner, and had helped with the child care of her beloved eldest granddaughter.
“The three of them shared a bond that was so close that they seemed more like sisters than like women separated by three generations.

“Daniel Barnett did not need to enter my mother's house that night. He chose to.
“Upon finding my mum at home, he easily could have left.
“Instead he chose to beat her and throw her against the wall and when she screamed in pain, he chose to kick her, stamp on her, and jump on her head until she was unable to scream anymore.

“As my mother lay dying alone in her hallway, he left her and attempted to make his own escape to freedom and presumably a return to normal life with his family. 

“The attack that Daniel Barnett carried out on my mum was barbaric, and he has not displayed any signs of remorse or taken any responsibility since.
“Instead he has made the situation even more agonizing by dragging us through eight months of waiting for this trial to start and the trial itself, where we have heard the horrific details of my mother's last moments of life.
“Daniel Barnett has proven himself to be a coward of the worst kind. He attacked a frail, clinically blind, vulnerable seventy-seven year old woman in her own home.
“A woman who had no chance of defending herself. He showed her no mercy. He showed her no compassion. 

“Instead of accepting responsibility, he has repeatedly lied and changed his story.
“But in destroying our family, he has also destroyed his own and forced them to one day come to terms with his actions, his lies and his absence from their lives.
“He has shown himself to be a father role-model of the worst kind, abandoning his own daughter's life in order to take the life of another person. 

“And now we have to carry on. but nothing is as it was.
“When we are home at night and hear a sudden, even innocent noise, we feel a fleeting fear and our hearts break again because we know that my mum's fleeting fear became real - a fear in which she lived her last conscious moments.
“A fear that through Daniel Barnett's actions would ultimately take her life.
“It is this that we find most difficult to bear - that my mum, the kindest and most gentle person we ever knew, felt fear and pain in her last moments of life all because of the actions of Daniel Barnett.

“We can only hope that in her dying moments she was comforted by the immense love we had for her and all of the moments that she gave us.
“We were not even offered the dignity of a peaceful good-bye as her body was so brutally mutilated we were unable to see her be laid out to rest. 

“Words do not do justice to the impact that Daniel Barnett's actions have had on our family. The pain, the emptiness and the guilt that we live with every day is something that can only be felt, not described.
“No time feels like it would be long enough for us to accept his actions. Most of all we are heartbroken that we have lost such a special person in our lives. A person that was always such a major source of strength and love for us all.”

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Champion Rower Cleared Of Landing Flurry Of Blows On High-Flying Commercial Lawyer

Cleared: Sean Corrigall (L) Edward Dyson (R)

A champion rower was cleared yesterday of repeatedly punching a successful Canary Wharf lawyer, who denied exaggerating the incident to cash-in with a personal injury claim.

Six-foot eight inches tall Orkney Isles-native Sean Corrigall, 23, was accused of landing a flurry of blows on solicitor Edward Dyson, 28, an associate and commercial law specialist with Clifford Chance - one of the largest firm's in the world with annual revenues of £1.3 billion.

Corrigall, of Warehams Farm, Sutton Green Road, Sutton Green, Guildford - who rows with the prestigious Molesey club - was found not guilty of assaulting Mr. Dyson on March 31 at Mayfair's Mahiki.

Bench chairman Mr. Don Kennedy announced at Hammersmith Magistrates' Court: "The photographs of Mr. Dyson taken at the time do not support and are not consistent with the alleged ferocity of the attack.

"The main issue for us is the incident that happened between you and Mr. Dyson on the edge of the dance floor," the magistrate told Corrigall. "You agreed you should not have approached Mr. Dyson and we agree this was a severe error of judgement."

That confrontation ended up with both men falling to the floor with Mr. Dyson in a headlock, but Mr. Kennedy ruled: "We find the headlock was a defensive action."

Afterwards a happy Corrigall said: "I'm competing this weekend and training hard. This is a good result."

He paid privately for his solicitor and defence barrister and will now be compensated out of central funds following the acquittal.

During the day-long trial Mr. Dyson told the court: "Out of nowhere a large gentleman crept around the side of the dance floor and took a swing at me and I took a blow to my left ear.

"It was with a fist, a punch. It clipped my jaw and hit my ear and he then went for my head and clipped my the right side of my jaw with a right-hand uppercut.

"I was hit four times, including the back of my neck and to the lower torso. If I had been hit in the teeth or nose I would have broken teeth and a broken nose.

"After the punches had been landed I was put in a headlock by the male and went down."

He claims to have suffered a whiplash-type injury and insists the blows have worsened his pre-existing tinnitus - a ringing in the ears he has endured since being punched in a separate club incident eight years ago.

"It's worse than it ever was," Durham University graduate Mr. Dyson told the court. "It is just so loud now, like alarm bells and car horns constantly.

"There is no treatment for tinnitus. I have seen an esteemed consultant, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do.

"I have these noises, noises that are deafening and I cannot sleep again."

Coupled with his fourteen to sixteen hour workdays and insomnia Mr. Dyson told the court the assault has had a large impact on his quality of life.

However, Corrigall's barrister Mr. Michael Stradling suggested: "Is this not a precursor to a personal injury claim? It is all part and parcel of you trying to make a claim and show yourself as the victim and not the aggressor.

"You were aggressive for whatever reason, either through too much alcohol or some sort of substance abuse. You were recklessly aggressive and made violent attempts to butt Mr. Corrigall.

"You went a little bit too far and you realised that and that is why you went to every effort to call the police to save your position, your status."

Mr. Dyson denied he was "arrogant and aggressive" adding: "This is a slight on my character. I have never taken any illegal substance and would never do so, my career is too important.

"In my life, my role, I have to be whiter than white."  

Trouble began at 1am when Mr. Dyson - who had consumed red wine and vodka that night - claims Corrigall and his three friends refused to budge on the club's landing as he tried to make his way to the toilet.

"I was walking to the bathroom and there is a landing where four gentlemen were standing and I said: 'Excuse me. Can I get through?'

For whatever reason, maybe they had been drinking they started remonstrating and they were all tall, six-foot plus men and they would not move and I forced myself to get around them. 

"They laughed at me, it was childish, nonsensical. They said something about my mother and I said: 'Don't be so childish' and laughed at them.

"I went to the urinal and moments later someone threw a drink on my back."

Corrigall told the court Mr. Dyson barged into his group aggressively and reacted angrily when the defendant suggested he should have simply asked: "Excuse me."

"He came towards me quite aggressively and attempted to bite me on the nose. I had to move back, quite dumbfounded, and he then tried to do it a second time.

"It was like a dog snapping, you could hear his teeth and one of my friends said he seemed highly intoxicated through drugs."

Corrigall and a pal went to the toilet, where he says Mr. Dyson deliberately barged into them, spilling the drink his friend was holding over all three of them.

"He said: 'You don't know who you're f***ing messing with. I own half of this nightclub and I'm going to get you c**** banned for life."

Mr. Dyson complained to a club bouncer and Corrigall's friend was removed, prompting the defendant to seek him out on the dance floor, where he says the lawyer assaulted him.

"He struck me on my head with his head and then he lunged towards me with his head and struck the bottom of my cheek and I felt I had to restrain him with a headlock."

The pair fell to the floor and Corrigall, who had consumed one cider and one beer during his first ever visit to a nightclub, told the court Mr. Dyson said: "I am going to sue you for everything you're worth."

Mr. Dyson conceded from the witness box: "If you assault a solicitor it is not the best idea, because I will call the police."

Staff were unwilling to call 999, but Mr. Dyson, who staff pinned to the wall at one point, did and officers arrested Corrigall outside after he was wrestled to the floor.

Corrigall won has won four golds at the last two Scottish Indoor Rowing championships, where he broke his own national record last year, and won two golds at the Metropolitan and the Marlow Regatta and the gold cup for the 2,000 metres at the Henley Town Regatta.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Old Bailey: Worst Customer Service In London

The Central Criminal Court may pride itself on delivering the highest standards of justice in the country, but unfortunately after this reporter's experience yesterday the same cannot be said of how it treats visitors to the landmark building.

Arriving at the Old Bailey in the City without my press card - never again - I was refused entry and had no option, but to cover the case I was there for from the public gallery.

So the nightmare begins.

I now had a first-hand take on how most visitors' trip to the most famous courthouse in the world is spoilt by obstruction, arrogance, petty rules, lack of respect, threats, contempt and an overwhelming culture that the public are a complete nuisance.

Make no mistake, the viewing gallery is there for the convenience of the staff, who make no effort whatsoever to assist visitors or even allow them basic human comforts although the facilities exist to ease what for some can be an emotional and traumatic experience.

Firstly, if you plan to attend a case bring no personal belongings with you whatsoever, because any item could potentially be used as an excuse to deny entry - the overwhelming aim of the unhelpful staff.

So that means no bags, phones, laptops, umbrellas, cameras's, calculators etc.

The Old Bailey has a zero tolerance policy to looking after such items while you are in court - they will not do it.

However, the biggest scandal of all is obvious once you eventually gain entry and find that the staff have turned the staircase - a glorified fire escape - into a waiting room because they do not want to share their personal space with the public.

Therefore you have the shocking spectacle of people sitting on steps and standing on tiny landings as they look through glass doors at a larger approximately 180 sq. foot room occupied by a single member of staff sitting comfortably on a seat.

What of Health and Safety?

Doubtless the staff would use those regulations in their favour if they wanted to deny somebody access or move them on, but a mass of people standing on a staircase is an accident waiting to happen.

I voiced my concerns while standing on the cramped sweltering landing for over an hour after a party of people were ordered back onto the staircase when they tried to go into Court Seven when the case was called over the speaker.

"Ah. They don't want you going in," I told them. "They are are certainly not here to help members of the public."

A complaint was immediately made by one of the security team to a manger, who took me to a private room, where I was warned any more outbursts would be met with a banning order from the Old Bailey.

I still wanted to cover the case I was there for so I said nothing and my ordeal was over approximately ten minutes later when the hearing concluded.

I hope this helps people prepare for any potential visit they are planning to make to the building, which I heard recently was the subject of a multi-million pound bid by a hotel chain.

Turn the Central Criminal Court into a hotel?

Not a bad idea, but a warning to potential investors: Do not hire any of the current staff if you want any customers returning.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Nightclub Woman Pulled BBC Star's Daughter's Hair During Throat-Slash Melee

A woman whose sister is accused of slashing the throat of BBC1 Ground Force star Tommy Walsh's daughter in a West End club agreed today that she pulled the teen's hair during the incident.

Victoria Bloomfield, 26, of Porters Cottages, Fordham Heath, Colchester, Essex appeared at City of London Magistrates' Court (pictured) after pleading not guilty to assaulting Natalie Walsh, 19.

The trial did not proceed after the Crown Prosecution Service discussed the case with Mr. Walsh, who attended court with his daughter, and Bloomfield was bound over to keep the peace for six months in the sum of £100.

When questioned by police Bloomfield admitted pulling Miss Walsh's hair at the Cafe de Paris, Leicester Square on February 3, but insisted she acted in self-defence.

Today a not guilty verdict was entered, but Bloomfield accepted the bindover and agreed her behaviour was not as good as it should have been.

Her sister, Leanne Bloomfield, 28, has pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, with intent and she will return to Southwark Crown Court in October.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Sentencing Date For Burglar

This is the face of a prolific burglar, who will be sentenced on July 26 for a spate of break-ins.
Paulo Santos, 45, of Dovedale Close, Harefield was bailed to return to Isleworth Crown Court.
He has already pleaded guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court and West Hertfordshire Magistrates' Court, Watford to several charges of trespass and burglary.
Residential properties, garages and offices in Harefield, Northwood and Rickmansworth are among the addresses Santos admits burgling.
Property stolen includes three laptop computers, gardening equipment and a hand tool.
The hearing was adjourned because the court did not have all the charges the defendant has pleaded guilty to in front of it and Santos also needs a Portuguese interpreter.
He was bailed on condition he observes a night time curfew.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Tenant Caught Glueing Protest Posters To Landlord's Listed Building

A disgruntled tenant was caught glueing homemade posters to the Grade Two listed building of his landlord's during a protest over his living conditions.

Jobless Alan Godwin, 57, of Gatliff Close, Ebury Bridge Road, Pimlico caused damage to the stonework of the landmark building behind Buckingham Palace, which now needs specialist treatment to repair.

He pleaded guilty at Hammersmith Magistrates' Court to seven counts of causing criminal damage to 21 Grosvenor Place ( between March 18 and May 28 and was sentenced to a twelve-month community order.

The court heard that Godwin (pic.bottom) has an ongoing dispute with Citywest Homes and claims he is suffering anxiety due to the smell of drugs wafting through his windows.

CCTV was installed to find the culprit after the posters began appearing over the weekend and the defendant was identified.

The posters contained similar complaints to the ones Godwin had written to his landlord's about.

On June 4 police visited Godwin's home, where he was arrested and the tell-tale posters and glue was found.

He was walked over to Belgravia Police Station where he made full admissions, conceding the suspect caught on CCTV was him.

The court ordered Godwin to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

No compensation order was made.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Greedy Executor Looted Pal's £136K Charity Will

The trusted executor of his friend's £136,000 will, which bequeathed the money to a children's charity, has been jailed for twenty-seven months for stealing and blowing the lot on an "extravagant lifestyle."

Greedy Christopher MacKnight, 53, of Howard Agne Close, Bovingdon, Hertfordshire went through the money during a three-year spree, leaving the National Childrens Home without a penny.

He pleaded guilty at Harrow Crown Court to stealing £136,000 from the estate of his late friend Derek Roberts, between September 7, 2003 and December 3, 2006.

Mr. Roberts, who died on September 8, 2003, had left MacKnight some mementos in his will and had only left his own three children £1,000 each.

"If this defendant was in dire straits that would be one thing, but he is buying himself expensive cars and spending thousands on extravagant living," said Judge Graham Arran. "This money was intended for children.

"You paid that money straight into your bank account and in three years helped yourself to the estate.

"Much of that money was not spend out of necessity, but on an extravagant lifestyle that you otherwise could not afford."

By the time the charity discovered they were the beneficiaries the proceeds of the will had been spent by MacKnight, who in 2010 went into voluntary bankruptcy - a move some suspect was a tactic to avoid reimbursing the National Children's Home.

However, his lawyer Mr Andrew Kerry told the court: "It was not a wilful attempt to avoid the repayments," insisting his client was committed to compensating the charity.

MacKnight even told the probation service, who were compiling his pre-sentence report, that he was paying the charity £500-£600 per month, but prosecutor Mr. Basil Hillman said: "That simply is not the case."

The charity tried to work with MacKnight before calling in the police, but the defendant proved to be evasive and did not reply to their letters.

The bulk of the estate was in a property Mr. Roberts had left, plus some insurance policies. 

"None of this found it's way to the charity," added Mr. Hillman. 

MacKnight now says he has built up a compensation pot of £25,000-£30,000, which he will use to pay the charity, but so far they have not received a penny.

The defendant denied for years that he stole the money, but eventually admitted the offence on the day his jury trial was due to begin

"He found himself in a very difficult period of his life and he admits he made all the wrong decisions at that time," said Mr. Kerry. 

"He accepts he is guilty and is extremely remourceful. The issue he has struggled with is the issue of dishonesty."

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Cafe Boss Targeted Dead Neighbour's £32K Savings

A struggling cafe boss looted his dead neighbour's bank account while posing as the deceased, transferring his life savings from one account to another during a £32,400 scam.

Father-of-three Ali Sidar, 34, already had the PIN for 63 year-old Mike Jenkin's current account, which he quickly emptied before going after the rest of his savings - leaving the dead man's window having to borrow cash to fund the funeral.

"I make it clear I have no doubt whatsoever that this was perpetrated against an extremely vulnerable victim," said Croydon Crown Court Judge Heather Boucher. "He couldn't say anything could he? He was dead.

"It could be said you were building up, being a good neighbour to perpetrate this fraud. The plan for you may have been some time in the making."

Sidar, of Sandfield Gardens, Thornton Heath befriended the sick Mr. Jenkin, who lived in a flat above his cafe in Stanley Park Road, Sutton.

His lawyer Mr. Peter Hunter said: "Mr. Sidar took it upon himself to feed him, wash his clothes, and care for him. Mr. Jenkin was unable to walk up and down stairs and Mr. Sidar would carry him down to the restaurant to have free food.

"It was like a father/son relationship. This was true friendship, not to get something out of it and he had genuine grief when this man passed away. He was absolutely devastated."

However, Judge Baucher replied: "This complainant was absolutely vulnerable and could not be more vulnerable and you are making it worse by saying what good friends they were.

"You are saying that you can take your best friend's money as soon as they are dead. It is a gross breach of trust."

Mr. Jenkin died on May 19 from a respiratory infection and his wife rushed from the Philippines to be at his bedside for the last nine hours of his life.

She reported his death to LloydsTSB in order to close the accounts and they told her £5,400 had been withdrawn from her late husband's current account and £25,000 transferred from his savings to the current account, which Sidar had the debit card for.

Prosecutor Miss Shazia Ahmed told the court: "Mr. Sidar told the bank manager he was Mr. Jenkin's carer and that Mr. Jenkin had told him none else would be entitled to the money on his death.

"He suggested he had full authority to use Mr. Jenkin's money in a letter he could no longer find and that Mr. Jenkin made a promise that he could use all of the money for himself, his sister and his three children."

The court heard Sidar had recently taken out a £20,000 loan to keep his cafe going and was working seven days a week in order for the business to stay afloat.

The judge told first-time offender Sidar: "You went around the shops flashing Mr. Jenkin's debit card left, right and centre in order to obtain goods.

"Where was this mysterious letter we never saw? It didn't exist, it was a figment of your imagination.

"You thought this was a good way to provide a little extra for you and your three children and your cafe was also struggling.

"Mr. Jenkin's wife had to find and borrow money for the funeral because she had none of her own and there was none in the bank accounts."

Sidar was sentenced to sixteen months imprisonment, suspended for two years, ordered to perform 200 hours community service work, pay £5,000 compensation to Mr. Jenkin's estate and £1,000 costs.

He pleaded guilty to stealing £5,400, plus two counts of fraud involving the dishonest £25,000 transfer and spending £2,000 on Mr. Jenkin's debit card between May 19 and june 12, last year.