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‘Fawlty Towers' conman ran up unpaid bills of more than £10,000

22 September 2015 by
‘Fawlty Towers' conman ran up unpaid bills of more than £10,000

A conman who posed as an aristocrat in a Fawlty Towers-type hotel scam ran up thousands of pounds of bills at five luxury hotels under the name of Jamie Spencer, Duke of Marlborough.

Alexander Wood, 33, lived the high life at the hotels by running up unpaid bills totalling more than £10,000 during a six-week period, Southwark Crown Court heard. He used fake identities to stay at the luxury May Fair hotel, where he ran up separate tabs totalling £5,573.60; Grange Wellington hotel in Victoria (£682.91), Radisson Blu in Canary Wharf (£1205.19); Radisson Blu Edwardian, Cromwell Road (£620.80) and Great Northern hotel, King's Cross (£2,278).

Wood was finally caught on 10 July after leaving the May Fair hotel for the last time without paying. He earlier admitted fraud charges and one count of making or supplying articles for use in fraud and returned to Southwark Crown Court on Monday. However, the hearing was adjourned for a second time after his defence team failed to bring supporting evidence for a series of wild claims made by Wood in a nine-page letter.

Staff at the Great Northern hotel said they "'didn't want to cause a scene by asking for identification" from the crook. Wood was spotted treating people to expensive drinks in the bar, far exceeding a spending limit of £100 a day agreed with the hotel.

When confronted about his identity Wood offered to come down to the lobby to settle his bill, but then walked out without paying.

The scam recalls the A Touch of Class episode of 1970s BBC comedy show Fawlty Towers, which featured a conman posing as Lord Melbury.

Prosecutor Beverley Akinbile said: "The defendant has entered a number of hotels and he has impersonated on one occasion the Duke of Marlborough and on other occasions he has purported to be an employee of British Airways.

The judge, Mr Recorder David Jeremy QC, said that Wood was a child prodigy and an international violin soloist who had set up a highly successful business, but that a spat with an employee had led to him being under threat of his life and the commission of the offences.

Wood, he noted, either had powerful mitigation or was "utterly delusional".

He was supported by a letter from Tory MP for Southend West Sir David Amess who requested a mental health assessment on his behalf.

Adil Syed, defending Wood, said his client was desperate to lead the "high life" and was "trying to live up to a status he didn't have" following a previous jail term for fraud.

Adjourning the sentence for reports to be prepared on Wood, the judge commented: "I don't want to repeat this embarrassing waste of public money."'

He referred to both legal teams as "woefully inadequate" after they failed to provide evidence to prove or disprove Wood's claims for the second time.

Wood, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, was remanded in custody ahead of the next hearing on 23 October.

A pre-sentence report has been requested and he will either face sentencing on that date or psychological tests will be ordered.

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