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Suffolk: Appeal hopes dashed for quartet involved in £5.7million escort and debt elimination scams run from Spain and Turkey

PUBLISHED: 08:05 03 August 2014

Quartet fail in applications for appeals

Quartet fail in applications for appeals

Four people involved in escort and debt elimination scams that duped 17.300 people out of £5.7million have been refused permission to appeal their cases.

Three Court of Appeal judges, headed by Lord Justice Treacy, turned down applications from Mark Bell, of Westerfield Road, Ipswich, Geraldine French, of Lowestoft, Colin Samuels, of The Street, Redgrave, Diss and Bradley Rogers, of Malaga.

The quartet were all part of a gang led by notorious timeshare conman Antoni Muldoon who set up a fraud involving Spain and Turkey while living the high-life in Spain.

Bell, 42, Samuels, 63, and French, 61, were found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud at Ipswich Crown Court last year.

Bell was sentenced to six years and six months, Samuels to five years and six months, and French to six years and five months.

Rogers, 30, was found guilty of money laundering and jailed for two years and 10 months.

Their convictions came after a lengthy inquiry by Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards officers.

French had sought leave to appeal her conviction due to comments made by the judge at her trial.

However in their judgment the High Court judges denied her application

They concluded: “The matter complained of is not one which, in our judgment, could have made any material difference in the overall scheme of things. There is nothing to lead us to conclude that it is arguable that French’s conviction was unsafe, and her renewed application in this respect is refused.”

Bell and Samuels wanted to appeal their sentences, along with French.

Turning down their applications the judges said: “ In our judgment, the sentences passed were not manifestly excessive for a case involving large-scale and persistent frauds with a number of aggravating elements. Nor was there any unfair disparity. The judge had the benefit of presiding over the trial and was well able to assess the role which each co-defendant played, on the evidence before him. He gave a full and careful explanation for his conclusions. We do not consider that there is any basis upon which this court should interfere with the sentences passed.

Rogers failed in his application to dispute his conviction.

Muldoon, 67, was jailed for seven years and five months for conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

At the gang’s sentencing Sean Hammond, mitigating for Bell, said he was naive and had been left with debts despite his profit from the scam.

Samuels had been “honest and hardworking” up to his involvement in the fraud, his counsel said.

Rogers was said to have played peripheral roles, while French was described as an “employee and administrator”.

There’s a problem when it comes to men and mental health. It’s not that men’s mental health is any worse than women’s mental health. It’s just that men are not so good in talking about it and, crucially, seeking help. That could be one of the reasons behind the shocking statistic that three out of every four suicides are men.

The Orwell Bridge is expected to close for the third time this winter as high winds are forecast again on Wednesday night.

Essex Wildlife Trust has responded to reports that a black panther has been sighted in a rural village in the county.

Feeling safe on the streets, career prospects and retirement plans are among the top concerns for women in Suffolk and Essex, a survey reveals.

Proposals to build a new multi-million pound rail depot on the Suffolk/Essex border at Brantham near Manningtree are being reconsidered by Greater Anglia.

A mentally-ill Bury St Edmunds man accused of killing a 57-year-old man by stabbing him multiple times has admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

A crash between a van and a car this morning has closed a rural Suffolk road.

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