William Stringfellow, 51, of Killins Lane in Shotton, was convicted of conspiring to defraud at Mold Crown Court today (25th October). Stringfellow, who was the brains behind a company that conned businesses into believing it was a charity donating money to the emergency services, has been warned that he faces prison.
Judge Niclas Parry re-bailed him pending sentence but warned him to expect a significant custodial sentence. Stringfellow had denied being part of the conspiracy which ran from January 2009 to August 2013, but his story was rejected by the jury which convicted him unanimously.
Two employees who worked in telesales - Heather Manfield, 29, of Linden Avenue in Connah’s Quay, and Richard Barnes, 40, of Clarence Street in Shotton - were both unanimously cleared by the jury. They were told by Judge Parry that they could leave the court with their “good characters intact”. Both denied any dishonesty, claiming they were simply following instructions and were not aware of what was going on.
Stringfellow will be sentenced along with five others who pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy before the trial started at a later date. Those also facing sentencing are Gary Chare, 31, of Courbet Drive in Connah’s Quay, Leah Lewis, 33, of Chester Close in Shotton, Beverley Meakins, 57, of Chester Road in Oakenholt, Daniel Glachan, 25, of Brunswick Road in Buckley, and Karl Roderick, 29, of Deva Avenue in Connah’s Quay.
During the eight-day trial, the jury heard that businesses were conned into buying adverts in a magazine, believing it was published to raise money for the police and other emergency services. However, Emergency Support Services Ltd, a company based at Shotton on Deeside, was not connected to the emergency services.
Following complaints, a joint investigation was set up by Flintshire County Council Trading Standards Department and the National Trading Standards Investigation Team for Wales. A search warrant was obtained, a large number of documents and computers were seized, and the way the company operated and scammed customers came to light. Prosecuting barrister Lee Reynolds said the company had a £700,000 turn-over over a five year period and donated some 0.5% to charity.
The company falsely claimed that it worked on behalf of the police and other emergency services, it also claimed it was a charitable organisation and that a significant proportion of the money used by customers to buy adverts was donated to the emergency services. It is alleged that Emergency Support Services Ltd claimed the publication for which they were selling advertising space would be distributed widely in the locality, however Mr Reynolds told the jury that only small number of magazines were printed – just enough to be sent to the advertisers themselves.
Emergency Support Services Ltd would “cold call” businesses and persuade them that they were launching various campaigns to raise awareness on issues such as drug abuse, internet safety or child sex abuse for the police, which they falsely claimed had been on the radio and in the local press. People would be asked to donate and to support the initiatives after being given the impression that a considerable proportion of customers’ money would go to the emergency services.
Stringfellow was described as “the main man, the boss, the controlling mind” and was “hands on” in running the business. A number of scripts had been written by him and others for staff to follow, he said. False names were routinely used – and Mr Reynolds said that Stringfellow even used a false name when he was advertising for staff. The prosecutor said Stringfellow made a number of statements designed to make people believe he was a police officer or calling on behalf of the police. A favourite line which he used many times was “it will not get you off any speeding fines”, he alleged.
Stringfellow lied about circulation, the money raised, the contribution to the emergency services and at one stage even said that the Queen would be in the next edition as patron.
Notes to Editors
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Notes to editors
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