Monday, 31 July 2017

Woman Hunted For Vicious Attack On Dog-Walking OAP

A pensioner using her mobility scooter to walk her dog was attacked and left with horrific facial injuries by a female mugger.

Catherine Smith, 82, was strangled with the pet’s lead inside the doorway of her Streatham Hill home in south London four days ago and police are still hunting the suspect.

As she arrived home at 1.00pm after walking the dog in nearby Palace Road Nature Gardens she was confronted by a five-foot five black woman, wearing a khaki-coloured coat and sporting multi-coloured trainers.

It is believed the suspect has followed the lone lady from the park.

The suspect sat Catherine’s wall and repeatedly asked for money and kept saying: “Where’s Tracey?”

The OAP does not know any Tracey and did not hand over any money and shut her front door on the woman.

However, the suspect asked to use the toilet and became even more aggressive when refused, pushing open the door, which caused Catherine to fall back and strike her head.

The suspect wrapped the dog lead around the pensioner’s neck and started strangling her before fleeing in an unknown direction.

Shocked witnesses responded to Catherine’s calls for help and dialled 999 when they saw her covered in blood.

She was rushed to hospital with serious injuries and has been discharged.

The suspect is also described as being of slim build with slicked-back black hair and wearing tights.

Detective Constable Vicky Vincent of Lambeth CID said: “This was a vicious, unprovoked attack on an elderly vulnerable woman’s own front door. The attack has left her very distressed.

“We believe the suspect spotted Catherine in Palace Road Nature Gardens and for unknown reasons decided to follow her home, harass her and then brutally assault her.

“We would encourage anyone with information or any witnesses to contact us as a matter of urgency so we can bring the person responsible for this heinous crime to justice.”

Anyone with information or witnesses should contact Lambeth CID on 07785774447 or 101 or tweet to ©MetCC.

Information can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800555111.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Torturer Who Poured Boiling Water Over Girlfriend Caged

A vicious thug, who tortured a young woman with boiling water during a “savage and cruel attack” has been locked-up for fifteen years.

Fiston Onyumbe, 32, inflicted horrific injuries on the 20 year-old victim, who was left with burns, a fractured skull, jaw and eye socket and damaged pelvis and spine.

He tied her up and ripped her clothes off at his home in Pymmes Close, Tottenham after the pair went to a nightclub that evening.

Onyumbe was originally charged with attempted murder, but pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to the lesser charge of causing grievous bodily harm, with intent.

During the attack on January 21 the woman jumped from Onyumbe's first-floor window as he re-filled the kettle, but he dragged her back inside, beating her as he did.

Police were called to reports of a violent domestic at 8.17am and in a bedroom they found the victim lying on the floor covered with a blanket, semi-conscious, injured and asking for help.

Onyumbe immediately became violent and assaulted the officers and it eventually took six officers to restrain and arrest him.

The victim, who had also lost a lot of blood, was taken to hospital suffering extensive injuries, including 35% third-degree burns across her body.

The victim told detectives she had gone to a nightclub in Dalston with Onyumbe.

His attack on her started outside the club after he strangled her following an argument.

Onyumbe then took her to the flat in Pymmes Close where he tied her up and ripped her clothes off.

Over the course of the next three hours - until police arrived - he proceeded to torture her; burning her with cigarettes and boiling water from a kettle, and punching her head, face and body.

After she tried to escape he repeatedly banged her head on the communal stairs and pushed his fist into her mouth until she lost consciousness.

Detective Inspector Fareed Mirza, from Haringey CID, said:“This was a particularly savage and cruel attack undertaken by a violent man who has preyed on and abused a weak and vulnerable young woman for a protracted period of time.

“Onyumbe’s actions were calculated, brutal and shocking.

“The sentence he has received today reflects this, but the physical and psychological injuries to the victim will still take a long time to heal."

Saturday, 29 July 2017

NOT GUILTY: Mum-Of-Three In Custody Fight Cleared Of Breaching Court Order

Cleared: Clare Gregg
A mum-of-three involved in a bitter child custody dispute with her sister has been cleared of breaching a court order after her sibling failed to appear for the trial.

Freelance writer Clare Gregg, 55, of Stockton Road, Hartlepool continues to protest her sister has any right to have custody of the twelve, fourteen and sixteen year-old.

She appeared at Croydon Magistrates Court charged with breaching a non-molestation order on April 21 be texting her sister Kathryn McAdam-Freud, who lives in Peckham.

Gregg is prohibited from making any contact with her sister following a Family Court ruling.

However, Mrs McAdam-Freud did not appear to give evidence and Gregg – who has always denied the charge – was found not guilty when the prosecution failed to proceed.

The alleged text was made a few weeks after Gregg was fined £180, with £450 costs for assaulting her sister near her £1.3m south London home.

She admitted shoving Mrs McAdam-Freud and taking off her spectacles.

The non-molestation order remains until November 20, 2022.

Gregg maintains the court order is unlawful and believes her children should live with her.

Friday, 28 July 2017

PTA Treasurer Was Caught Pinching Thousands.....And Did It Again!

The treasurer of a primary school’s PTA, who was caught stealing £19,625 and then did it again, has received a suspended prison sentence.

Jennifer Carribon, 49, was also employed at Streatham’s Hitherfield Primary School as a breakfast and after-school helper.

Over a period of three years she stole cash and cheques entrusted to her, but after being forced to resign her role and offered counselling she took another £1,375.

First-time offender Carribon, of Goodhew Road, Woodside, Croydon pleaded guilty to stealing a total of £21,000 between October 1, 2013 and December 21, last year.

At Inner London Crown Court she was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered to perform 150 hours community service work.

Carribon, who is the sole carer for two young relatives and receives working tax credits and child benefit, must also pay £7,800 compensation to the PTA over the next three years.

“It was her responsibility to bank both cash and cheques, but she began stealing very soon after she took on the role,” said prosecutor Miss Emily Watts.

An internal investigation was launched after an £8,000 PTA cheque bounced , resulting in Carribon paying-back £5,100 and admitting she was stealing.

The school did not inform the police, instead offering the defendant counselling.

“She was given a chance, but stole again when given a bag containing cash and cheques for the PTA,” added the prosecutor.

Carribon told the court: “It’s nothing I’m proud of and I am embarrassed and upset.”

Recorder Alex Gordon said: “You were appointed treasurer and were in charge of funds and immediately started stealing funds over three years.

“You further stole monies rather than right your wrong and that aggravates your offending.

“You breached a high degree of trust. You were given responsibility to look after these funds and instead stole them.

“That’s stealing from children. Their welfare and education.”

Thursday, 27 July 2017

NOT GUILTY: Intellectual Pal Of French President Macon Cleared Of Assaulting Ex-Wife

Mathieu and new wife Alix
A leading entrepreneur and liberal intellectual - who is a confidante to new French president Emmanuel Macron - has been cleared of assaulting his ex-wife and a 10 year-old boy at his £7.7m Kensington home.

Qualified lawyer Mathieu Laine, 42, was accused of grabbing the arm of former wife Eleanore Salin, 40, and pulling her during a Boxing Day domestic last year.

Father-of-three Laine, of Palace Gardens Terrace was found not guilty at Hammersmith Magistrates Court of two counts of assault on December 26, 2016.

The founder of consultancy firm Altermind and UK sister company Hypermind arrived at court with new wife Alix Foriel-Destezet, the daughter of French billionaire Philippe Foriel-Destezet.

Mother-of-two Ms Salin, also a qualified lawyer, had arrived at the property in a Uber cab with the young boy, who was due to go on holiday to Morocco with Laine the next day.

Laine, who has lectured in economics and political philosophy at Sciences Po, Paris - known as Paris Institute of Political Studies - claims his ex has an agenda for bringing the charges.

Ex: Eleanore
Prosecutor Mr. Ciaran Cronin told the court: “He pulled Ms Salin forcefully away by the arm.”

The young boy was carried into the house by Laine, the court heard. “He was hit on the back of his legs with an open palm while the boy was running about while calling him a: ‘Little shit’ or words to that effect.”

Laine’s lawyer Miss Orla Daly told the court: “There is a motivation behind what we say is a false allegation.”

The court announced it found Laine to be a “credible” witness, contrary to his ex-wife and dismissed all claims he assaulted the boy.

Eleanor had exaggerated the domestic incident, describing it as "like a move scene".

She claimed she was forced to flee along the street, desperately calling out for help from neighbours and passers-by.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

BBC Manager Who Defrauded £155K Jailed For Three Years

A BBC manager has been jailed for three years for planning a £155,000 fraud because he felt “overworked” and “undervalued”.

Lee Richardson, 52, was a Frameworks Contracts Manager, responsible for awarding work to firms tasked with the upkeep of the broadcaster’s huge property portfolio.

However, the school governor, who also served with Ofsted, founded Sentinal Services and paid himself for non-existent work - signing-off twelve separate invoices.

The married father-of-three, of Alexandra Drive, Surbiton pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position between October 6, 2009 and February 22, 2011.

Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court heard an audit after Richardson had left the BBC exposed the fraud.

“He was responsible for work to be carried out to the BBC estate and it was his job to select these tendered contracts,” said prosecutor Mr. Stephen Apted.

Sentinal was registered on September 9, 2009 and almost immediately Richardson was paying the company for work never carried out.

“That company was set up and registered for the sole purpose of committing these frauds.”

Richardson was Sentinal’s director and his wife Debra the company secretary and he twice refused to answer police questions after his arrest on November 15, 2015.

He has now fully repaid the BBC and after paying tax originally is now £25,000 down on the fraud.

“He has taken full responsibility. He felt aggrieved, overlooked, overworked and undervalued and saw gaps in the system and took advantage,” said his lawyer Anna McKenzie.

“He fully accepts what he did was wrong and bitterly regrets what he has done.”

Richardson has a construction and engineering background. “He has ruined his personal and professional reputation and is deeply ashamed of what he has done.”

Judge Sarah Plaschkes QC told bearded Richardson, whose wife and mother were in court: “You were employed by the BBC, a public body.

“You were promoted and were required to be independent and impartial, but these invoices were bogus.

“No work has been carried out and that company was created at the same time you were promoted.

“This was a sophisticated fraud in setting-up the company and using it to produce and submit invoices, it required planning.

“This was a calculated, sustained and sophisticated fraud, abusing your position to defraud a public institution.”

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

GULTY: Bogus Special Forces War Hero Facing Jail For £111K Swindle

Who Dares Swindles: Mark Fitt
A fake SAS Colonel was convicted yesterday of stealing and swindling £111,137 from two girlfriends, a retired chief superintendent and an investor.

Ladies man Mark Fitt, 43, described by one ex as “charming and charismatic” wowed his victims with tall tales of serving in the special forces and French Foreign Legion.

He was dating a policewoman while stealing from another girlfriend, who he convinced his company - N49 Intelligence - was going to make a fortune in the Middle-East and Africa.

Fitt, of James Terrace, Mortlake was found guilty of stealing £33,690 from business analyst Hilary Davies, 57, and £45,874 from interior designer Tracey Saunders, 45.

He was also convicted of defrauding retired police chief superintendent Mark Veljovic, 59, of £30,000 and stealing £1600 from investor Oliver Tonkin.

Fitt, who says he comes from a military family and served six years in the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, will be sentenced on September 15 and even his lawyer Robert Ellison said: “He’s clearly facing a prison sentence.”

Deceived: Hilary Davies
Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court heard Fitt would hold court in the pubs of leafy Barnes, south-west London, where he charmed all of his victims.

He claimed to be an expert in kidnapping and extortion with large companies and insurers willing to pay £200,000-£300,000 per quarter for his skills in troublespots like Libya and Somalia.

“I thought he was very charming, his voice was quite hypnotic and I trusted him as a nice character,” said Ms Davies. “I was hoping it would be a relationship at one point.”

Ms Saunders told the jury: “I was very worried about him, his stress levels and financial situation. I cared about him and wanted to help.”

While dating Ms Saunders Fitt was seeing policewoman Zoe Richardson and defrauded her housemate, Mr. Veljovic.

One witness told the court Fitt sported a regimental tie in the pub one Remembrance Sunday and proudly displayed nine service medals, some SAS, for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, Fitt denied this, explaining: “They were fake, they were not real and I had them when I dressed up as Colonel Gadaffi at a fancy dress party.”

Tricked: Tracey Saunders
Ms Davis explained: “He said he was a specialist with UK special forces and the UK security services.

“He was very persuasive and I felt empathy towards him. I still had funds in my limited company and felt I wanted to help him and felt that he was building up his future.”

Ms Davies told the court their relationship revolved around meetings and conversations. When asked if it was a sexual relationship she replied: “Not very actively.”

Within weeks Fitt was asking her for cash to tide his business over. “He was a confident person and gave me the impression he had money in the past.

“I wanted to help him and he was very charismatic,” explained Ms Davies, who also paid Fitt’s rent and what she believed were flights to overseas business meetings.

She funded his non-existent speaking engagement at a London Expo after being impressed by his ‘Project Phoebe’ business plan.

“The revenue forecasts ran into several millions of pounds. This was dishonest and to persuade her and other people to give money,” said prosecutor Mr. Tim Starkey.

She bumped into Fitt at a local cafe in March, 2013. “He was with another woman and wanted to blank me.

Conned: Mark Veljovic
“I was so angry I just spluttered out: ‘Where’s my money. I want my money back.’

“He said I was hassling him and that I was a stalker and he was going to call the police.”

Witnesses mentioned three other women Fitt was seeing at different times during the period and he is now engaged to another woman he runs a publishing company with.

He told Ms Saunders - who knew him as ‘Charlie’ - he had PTSD and began asking her for money after claiming the Foreign Office cancelled one of his contracts. 

She gave him £2,500 for a business trip to Nigeria; £5,000 for a trip to Somalia and also paid his utility bills and financed a three-week Thailand holiday for the couple.

He also signed-on for Jobseekers Allowance and enjoyed holidays to Tenerife and Majorca as well as a trip to the Bahamas and business class flights to Marseilles.

Throughout the trial he insisted he only told people he was merely trained by ex-SAS and French Foreign Legion soldiers in relation to his bodyguard work in Beirut.

He produced false business plans to convince Mr. Veljovic his company would received a lucrative retainer from insurance underwriters.

He even falsely claimed his company was endorsed by the former head of the Met’s kidnap and hostage unit.

“He spent Mr. Veljovic’s investment on a year’s rent,” added Mr. Starkey.

Fitt introduced himself in a local pub as a Colonel to the retired police officer. “He aid he was working on government contracts in the Middle East with other senior military leaders.

“He said he won a contract for kidnap response services and I had no reason to doubt his capabilities, given his links to senior military figures,” said Mr. Veljovic.

Fitt said he never passed himself off as a high-ranking officer. “The closest was my girlfriend Zoe’s nickname for me, she called me Colonel Blimp.”

Monday, 24 July 2017

Carer Convicted Of Ill-Treating Vulnerable Adult

Swan Court
A carer convicted of ill-treating his vulnerable client has received a suspended prison sentence.

Roy Celaire, 29, of Sir Francis Way, Brentwood, Essex fought the case, but was convicted by a jury.

He was charged that between November 14 and 16, 2014 at a flat in Swan Court, High Road, Whetstone he neglected Michael Cohen, a person who lacked mental capacity.

At Harrow Crown Court Celaire was sentenced to five months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months and ordered to complete 170 hours community service work.

The jury found him not guilty of causing actual bodily harm to Mr. Cohen at the flat on November 15, 2014.

Celaire may now be subject to inclusion on the barring list, prohibiting him from working with young and vulnerable people and must also pay an £80 victim surcharge.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

'Colonel Blimp' Ex-Soldier Denies SAS Fraud On Girlfriends And Retired Cop

Mark: Fitt For Service
An accused fraudster, who denies boasting he was ex-SAS during a £120,000 scam, told a jury his collection of fake service medals were part of his Colonel Gadaffi fancy dress costume.

Mark Fitt, 43, is accused of lying to two girlfriends, a retired detective and an investor to extract money for his non-existent security intelligence company.

Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court heard he wore the nine medals - some SAS - for active service in Iraq and Afghanistan along with a regimental tie at a pub one Remembrance Sunday.

“They were fake, they were not real and I had them when I dressed up as Colonel Gadaffi,” he told the court. “I did not wear them on Remembrance Sunday, that would be disrespectful to those that did serve.”

He insisted his company - N49 Intelligence - was genuine and said he never told anybody he was a Colonel in the Army or had served in the French Foreign Legion.

“The closest was my girlfriend Zoe’s nickname for me, she called me Colonel Blimp,” added Fitt.

He said he was raised in Germany and Wales by a military family and served six years in the Queen’s Dragoon Guards.

Former SAS and French Foreign Legion soldiers had trained him in close protection work, resulting in him working as a bodyguard in Beirut for six years, protecting Lebanese politicians, he claimed.

Hilary Davies 
“I wanted to use my brain more and entered the field of intelligence and putting my business hat on I thought: ’There’s a business to be made here.’”

He dated business analyst Hilary Davies, 57, during much of 2012, after meeting her in a Barnes pub, but denies stealing £33,690 from her.

“She offered to help me and I was happy to receive the help for bills, meetings, personal expenses and getting around.

“I was extremely grateful, she helped me out a lot,” said Fitt, insisting paying her back was never discussed.

“She was quite besotted with me and there was a bit of stalking going on. That was unbearable for me, messages at three or four in the morning.”

During the period of the charges Fitt signed-on for Jobseekers Allowance and enjoyed holidays to Tenerife, Majorca and Thailand as well as a trip to the Bahamas and business class flights to Marseilles.

He also denies stealing £45,874 from interior designer Tracey Saunders, 45. “It was to help with the business, she thought it was a viable idea. It was all a loan, an agreement I signed.”

She knew him as ‘Charlie’ and Fitt said that was his middle name and he was known by it as a child.

Tracey Saunders
He admitted not going on a Nigeria business trip she financed, despite pretending to be in the African country during text exchanges. “I needed space, I had PTSD and was not taking any medication.

“I did not offer the money back and she did not ask for it. I came clean two days later and got a slap across the face.”

She only received a tenner back, but Fitt told the court: “I paid more, sixty pounds I think.”

The court heard Fitt also received money from policewoman girlfriend Zoe Richardson and denies defrauding her housemate, retied Chief Superintendent Mark Veljovic, 59, of £30,000.

“He liked the idea. He thought it had merit and that money was part for me, part for the business.

“At this point I was straddling water. I had put so much work and effort into this business I was not going to quit.

Mark Veljovic
“I always said to them they would get their money back. They are loans they have to be repaid.”

Fitt told the jury his business, which involved working with kidnap and ransom insurers in the Middle East and Africa, was ruined by Mr. Veljovic.

He had told the retired detective his company would receive £2000,000-£300,000 per quarter.

“There were all these allegations that I stole from him and defrauded him and that put the spooks up the Lloyds insurance market and I lost everything.”

Fitt refused to answer police questions three times. “I was absolutely shocked. I had never been in that position before.”

He says he now runs a successful publishing company with his fiancĂ© after making a £100,000 investment in the firm.

Fitt, of James Terrace, Mortlake has pleaded not guilty to stealing £33,690 from Ms Davies; £45,874 from Ms Saunders; £11,000 from Oliver Tonkin and defrauding Mr. Veljovic of £30,000 between November 24, 2011 and March 14, 2014.

Trial continues………

Saturday, 22 July 2017

NOT GUILTY: Policewoman's Internet Date Cleared Of Molesting Her

An internet dater, accused of molesting a policewoman the first time they met, has been cleared after suggesting she pursued the case to save her career.

Freight manager Emanuele Schivo, 33, insists the Met PC thrust her hand between his legs and consented to him groping her up against a tree in a public park after their coffee date.

“That’s b*******,” she told the Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court jury. “That is an outright lie, absolute rubbish.”

Swiss-Italian Schivo, of Castle Street, Kingston-upon-Thames was found not guilty of one count of sexually assaulting the 40 year-old officer in nearby Canbury Gardens on November 1, last year.

His lawyer Edward Fenner asked her why she pressed charges after initial reluctance. “Did you fear that touching intimately in public may result in you losing your job?”

Shiva told police when questioned:  “We started kissing and rubbing our bodies and she put her hands around me.

“Everything became a bit more passionate and I started rubbing her breasts. 

“She also put her hand on my intimate part and I joked with her: ‘Hey, this isn’t fair’ because she would not let me touch her intimately.”

In court the officer admitted hesitating to make a statement. “I did not want to report it at the time, it was a very embarrassing situation.

“The stigma attached to the nature of what I would be reporting. You almost become further victimised.”

Earlier she told the court she met Schivo on dating site ‘PlentyOfFish’ on which he boasted of a high sex-drive and sent her pictures of himself stripped to the waist.

“He had quite a nice body, he obviously works out,” added the officer, who enjoyed meeting him. “We seemed to get on really well.

“I thought: ‘This is a nice date, a nice guy.’ He was quite funny and well dressed, saying he’d think nothing of spending three thousand pounds on decent stuff.”

She agreed to Schivo’s suggestion of a Thameside stroll and was happy to kiss. “It was a very passionate kiss, very full on.

“He pushed me up against a tree, he was not violent to me, but passionate and I kissed him back.

“He put his hand up my shirt, which I was not overly comfortable with, but I did consent to that.

“It told them there were people here, that it was a public place, but he was not bothered by that at all.

“He touched my breasts and had my shirt lifted up and I kept trying to pull it down.

“He was really grasping at me and getting angry, saying: ‘You’re so boring, you’re behaving like a teenager.’

“I tried to push him away. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and said: ‘You saying no just makes me want to do it more.’

“Even though I did not like him touching my breasts I was not forceful enough in stopping him.”

The officer told the jury Schivo then forced his hand between her legs.

“It was like he was turned on by it and he was trying to go inside my underwear.”

She insisted her police training was useless in trying to fight Schivo off, admitting she suggested going for a meal during the assault.

Afterwards she texted a friend: “I let a man sexually assault me, but I think I’ll be okay. I had a lucky escape.”

Two weeks later she made a video-recorded statement, which resulted in Schivo’s dawn arrest at his home.

When quizzed by police he said: “She seemed very, very interested and keen on meeting me. We go on very well, everything was chill and we had a laugh.

“It’s a dating-site for fun, not for meeting the person of your life,” he added.

“She seemed very insecure, suspicious, weak in a way. I knew she was a police officer and didn’t want to get in any trouble.”

They resumed kissing in another dark corner and Schivo says he ended things when the officer refused to be touched between the legs.

“I told her it was okay, it’s fine, you can go if you don’t want to do that.”

Friday, 21 July 2017

Piping Tom: Voyeur High On Sex-Drug GHB Spied On Bed-Time Woman

A late-night prowler told police he was “buzzing” on sex-drug GHB when breaking a drainpipe as he tried to spy on a female banker through the upstairs window of her £1.4m home.

Lee Preston, 21, confessed he fantasised about leering at the 47 year-old woman when he saw her undressing in her bedroom.

Jobless Preston, of Shepherds Lane, Mill End, Rickmansworth pleaded guilty to causing £241 worth of criminal damage to the cast iron pipe in the early hours of March 29.

Prosecutor Miss Caroline Mungal told Wimbledon Magistrates Court that German-born Valerie Rademacher noticed a piece of her broken black drainpipe on her first-floor terrace at 8.30am.

She also spotted a purple hoodie in nearby bushes and a neighbour confirmed hearing noises in the early hours.

CCTV showed Preston wandering around the grounds surrounding the gated property - 24 Southside Quarter, 38 Burns Road, Battersea - in the early hours.

Police arrested Preston, who had been temporarily staying with a friend nearby after making a DNA match to the hoodie.

“He said he was high on GHB and that it made him sexual and he was buzzing off the drugs and had previously been caught masturbating in public when he took it.

“He said he climbed up because he thought it was a turn on after seeing a lady undressing and that he was high that night.

Midnight Climb: Southside Quarter
“Preston told the officers he was very embarrassed and that he was sorry.”

The court heard he has previous convictions for criminal damage and public order offences.

His lawyer Miss Roz Olason told the court: “It was two or three in the morning and the lady was not up and about.

“There is no reason Mr. Preston thought there would be any benefit from climbing up the drainpipe other than he was high on drugs that do cause sexual urges.”

Preston was fined £80, with £40 costs and ordered to pay £241 compensation.

Preston was also charged with attempting to observe a person doing a private act for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, contrary to the Criminal Attempts Act.

This count, which did not name Valerie Rademacher, was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service on the day of Preston’s first appearance.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Fake SAS Hero Accused Of £129K Swindle

"Charming": Fitt
A “charming” and “charismatic” fraudster, who boasted he was ex-SAS, stole and swindled £129,000 out of two girlfriends, a retired senior cop and a fourth investor in his non-existent security intelligence company, a court heard.

Mark Fitt, 43, convinced them he was Colonel in the British Army, having also served in the French Foreign Legion  and had lucrative contracts to work in world trouble-spots, the jury were told.

“I thought he was very charming, his voice was quite hypnotic and I trusted him as a nice character,” business analyst Hilary Davies, 57, told Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court.

She met Fitt, who is accused of stealing £33,690 from her, in a local Barnes pub in November, 2011 and admitted: “I was hoping it would be a relationship at one point.”

Fitt denies also stealing £45,874 from interior designer Tracey Saunders, 45, who said: “I was very worried about him, his stress levels and financial situation. I cared about him and wanted to help.”

While dating Ms Saunders Fitt was seeing policewoman Zoe Richardson and denies defrauding her housemate, retied Chief Superintendent Mark Veljovic, 59, of £30,000.

One witness told the court Fitt sported a regimental tie on Remembrance Sunday and proudly displayed nine service medals, some SAS, for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I Trusted": Hilary Davies
Ms Davis explained: “He said he was orphaned and had no family life and it appeared quite hardcore, whatever he had been working in.

“He said he was a specialist with UK special forces and the UK security services.

“He was very persuasive and I felt empathy towards him. I still had funds in my limited company and felt I wanted to help him and felt that he was building up his future.”

Prosecutor Mr. Tim Starkey told the jury Fitt convinced his victims he had landed contracts for his company N49 Intelligence as an anti-piracy consultant in Somalia.

“He does have a military background, but it is limited to two years in the Army and a couple of years in the part-time TA.”

Work also supposedly took him to Togo and the Middle East as a counter-terrorism advisor for government agencies, the court was told, with Fitt a particular specialist in kidnapping and ransoms.

Ms Davies told the court their relationship revolved around meetings and conversations. When asked if it was a sexual relationship she replied: “Not very actively.”

Within weeks Fitt was asking her for cash to tide his business over. “He was a confident person and gave me the impression he had money in the past.

“I wanted to help him and he was very charismatic,” explained Ms Davies, who also paid Fitt’s rent and what she believed were flights to overseas business meetings.

She funded his non-existent speaking engagement at a London Expo after being impressed by his ‘Project Phoebe’ business plan.

“The revenue forecasts ran into several millions of pounds. This was dishonest and to persuade her and other people to give money,” added Mr. Starkey.

They were together around a year and Ms Davies added: “I believed always that he’d make good and pay me back otherwise it was like having a child always coming to the sweet shop for more sweets.

"I Cared": Tracey Saunders
“He did not want to have any contact with me at all and said: ‘I don’t owe you anything.’ I got really angered, I wanted my money.”

She bumped into Fitt at a local cafe in March, 2013. “He was with another woman and wanted to blank me.

“I was so angry I just spluttered out: ‘Where’s my money. I want my money back.’

“He said I was hassling him and that I was a stalker and he was going to call the police.”

Mr. Starkey told the jury Fitt dated Ms Saunders from September, 2012 to October, 2013. “He presented himself as someone in MI6 and a colonel in the Army.

“He said he was involved in operations in Syria to eliminate key people in the Asad regime and had experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his active service.”

Fitt began asking for money after claiming the Foreign Office cancelled one of his contracts, the court heard. 

Ms Saunders gave him £2,500 for a business trip to Nigeria; £5,000 for a trip to Somalia and also paid his utility bills and financed a three-week Thailand holiday for the couple.

In Knightsbridge’s Millennium Hotel Fitt told her the Somalia trip was going to be a six-month operation. “She felt upset and deceived.

“However he continued contacting her, asking for more money.” A further £2,200 was taken from Ms Saunders, who has only received a tenner in return.

£30,000: Mark Veljovic
They first met in a Barnes pub, with Fitt introducing himself as ‘Charlie’. “It was clear he had been very high up in the military, serving in the Middle East and Africa in security work.”

She said Fitt also told her he was in the intelligence service and ex-French foreign Legion. “He said the British government just pulled a contract, leaving him in dire financial circumstances.”

The designer also financed one Nigeria business trip only to find Fitt in another Barnes pub. “I was very upset and confused.”

The ladies man, who the trial heard dated at least three other women at differing times, told Ms Saunders another trip she was financing was suddenly a six-month operation.

“I was completely lived, shocked and confused and ended the relationship and he was concerned because he needed the final part of the money.

“He was begging me to pay the final instalment or the trip would be cancelled and I’d have no chance of getting my money.”

The jury were told Fitt produced false business plans to convince retired police officer Mr. Veljovic his company would received a retainer of up to £300,000 per quarter from insurance underwriters.

He even falsely claimed his company was endorsed by the former head of the Met’s kidnap and hostage unit.

“He spent Mr. Veljovic’s investment on a year’s rent,” added Mr. Starkey.

Fitt introduced himself in a local pub as a Colonel to the retired police officer. “He said he was working on government contracts in the Middle East with other senior military leaders.

“He said he won a contract for kidnap response services and I had no reason to doubt his capabilities, given his links to senior military figures.”

Fitt, of James Terrace, Mortlake has pleaded not guilty to stealing £33,690 from Ms Davies; £45,874 from Ms Saunders; £19,570 from Oliver Tonkin and defrauding Mr. Veljovic of £30,000 between November 24, 2011 and March 14, 2014.

Trial continues………