|Benjamin Fretwell, sister Isobel and Lady Mary Fretwell|
The Alpine ski instructor son of Lady Mary Fretwell used her stolen credit card to withdraw nearly £10,000 to support his £300-a day crack and heroin addiction.
Benjamin Fretwell, 50, has been battling a decade-long habit with the assistance of his mother and father - retired diplomat Sir John Emsley Fretwell.
He was staying with his mother at his parents’ £2.5m Kensington apartment in Queens Gate when he secretly stole the card.
Fretwell pleaded guilty to stealing the card on December 17, last year and fraud by false representation between December 22 and January 30, namely making cash withdrawals of £9,484.93.
Lady Fretwell OBE and her daughter attended Hammersmith Magistrates Court to support Benjamin, but there was no sign of Sir John - British Ambassador to France between 1982 and 1987.
This week Fretwell received eight weeks imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, and was ordered to complete 200 hours community service work.
Prosecutor Mr. Robert Simpson said: “The charges date back to December, last year and January, this year. The complainant is the defendant’s mother.
“He was staying at her address for a period of time and his mother only realised her card had been used when she received her credit card statement.”
|Fretwell: £10K Drugs Binge|
Fretwell is currently six weeks into a two-month drug rehab programme financed by his parents at the private Sanctuary Lodge, Halstead, Essex.
“This was an opportunistic act by a man in the grip of an addiction to drugs,” said Mr. Duncan Jones, defending. “He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and realises he is in a precarious position today.
“He made a full admission to the police and for him it was a relief to be arrested and that put a stop to his offending.
“By his actions he has let down his mother and father, who over the years have supported him.
“He is addicted to crack cocaine and heroin and has been for the last ten years and there was an overwhelming temptation when he saw his mother’s bank card.
“His addiction consumed his thoughts and actions and he descended into a three hundred pounds-a day drug addiction.
“It was his worst ever relapse and he could not control it while these cards, for those weeks, were usable.
“In the past he has controlled his drug addiction and during the winter he is usually working in the Alps as a ski instructor and then goes to France and Spain to look after his family’s houses.
“There, he doesn’t take drugs. The problems are when he is here, in London under bad influences.
“In her statement his mother said she phoned the police to get help for her son, not to see him prosecuted or sent to prison.
“His therapist says Mr. Fretwell is looking at his run of destructive patterns.
“The desire of the family is that Mr. Fretwell is allowed to continue that privately-funded therapy and not be a drain on public funds.
“He is at low-risk of reoffending and the probation service say he does not need rehabilitation from them.
“His intention is to sell his flat in Pimlico and use the proceeds to repay his mother. It is worth a substantial sum and is on the market.
“His mother has Power of Attorney over the flat and his bank accounts as a result of previous problems.
|Card Nicked From Lady Fretwell's Home|
“He has shown, notwithstanding his addiction, he can be a productive member of society.
“He is clearly talented in his role of a ski instructor and that occupation keeps him clean for the majority of the year.
“Because of this drug binge he went on he did not go to work this season and his mother told his employers he was unwell.
“Next year he intends to continue with his ski instruction and is at Level Two.
“These are high-level qualifications and he teaches children and those with special needs to more advanced skiers and has a lot to offer, despite this drug addiction.
“This was an opportunistic offence and he had no prospect of getting away with it and knew his mother would put a stop to the card.
“I ask for a sentence to be passed that will allow him to continue to repair his relationship with his parents.
“After rehab he will be looked after by his family, the best place for him.”
Fretwell was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge and told the court: “My mother will pay that and I’ll pay her back.”
Lady Fretwell, founder of the Passport for Pets pressure group, which campaigns for an alternative to our quarantine laws, said from the public gallery: “It will come out of the flat cash, I’ve got a book.”
Magistrate Mr. Robert Westlake told Fretwell: “This is a case aggravated by the amount involved.
“If you are convicted of an offence in the next twelve months it’s highly likely you will go to prison these eight weeks.
“Your mother wants to help you and we are really pleased you are doing something to help yourself at Sanctuary Lodge.
“It’s hanging over your head. That’s why we are doing it and it will be disastrous for you if you are back.”