Conman captured after absconding from Court

Michael Patrick Phelan (61) finally started his prison sentence yesterday (15 December), having been arrested in Bournemouth on 13th December by Dorset Police.

Phelan had been found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court in October 2016 of 33 offences of fraud and theft for having run a fraudulent business franchise scam. The conviction followed a lengthy investigation by the National Trading Standards Central England Scambuster Team.

The majority of the trial was heard in Phelan’s absence as he had absconded from the court after the first day of the trial. Enquiries showed that he had deliberately absented himself from the proceedings, and had cleared out the room that he had been renting. HHJ Carr ordered the trial to continue in his absence, and following a 5 week trial he was sentenced in his absence to 7 ½ years imprisonment.

Enquiries continued to locate Phelan, and these resulted in his arrest in a Bournemouth high street betting shop at 2pm on 13th December.

On 15th December he was brought before HHJ Carr at Birmingham Crown Court and Phelan admitted the additional offence of failing to attend court whilst on bail. HHJ Carr told Phelan that his actions had delayed the court process and that he had tried to undermine justice, as well as adding additional cost to the public purse.

Phelan was sentenced to an additional 6 months imprisonment for the Bail Act offence, to run consecutively to the initial 7 ½ years for the frauds and theft, making a total of 8 years imprisonment.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:

“I am pleased that Mr Phelan has now been brought to justice. He operated a major fraudulent scheme that left his victims out of pocket and in many cases bankrupt or homeless. Mr Phelan then attempted to evade the consequences of his actions by absconding from the court during his trial.

“I would like to thank once again all those involved with the investigation into Mr Phelan’s fraudulent scheme. I would also like to express my thanks to those, including Dorset Police, whose efforts have now ensured that Mr Phelan is held accountable for the crime he committed.”

Notes to Editors

For more information about this case contact Phil Page in the regional Scambusters office on 0121 464 5668 / 07919 626708

For more general enquiries regarding the National Trading Standards Board please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail

 About the National Trading Standards Board

  • The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.

The National Trading Standards Board provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.

  • The National Trading Standards Board funds the Scambuster Teams that target rogue trading, doorstep crime and scams, providing support across England and Wales through eight regionally based teams:

1.Central England Trading Standards Authorities (CEnTSA)

2.North East Trading Standards Authorities (NETSA)

3.Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM)

4.Trading Standards North West (TSNW)

5.Tri Region Scambusters (TRS), on behalf of Trading Standards South East Ltd (TSSEL), East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) and London Trading Standards Association (LoTSA)

6.Trading Standards Partnership South West (SWERCOTS)

7.Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group (YAHTSG) and

8.Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS)

There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.