FENLAND: Convicted fraudster Nicholas Wattiez gets further 5 years for scam he ran from prison
A JUDGE slammed prison chiefs who allowed convicted Fenland fraudster Nicholas Wattiez to start a new business from jail which he then used as a front to fleece customers and suppliers of thousands of pounds.Wattiez, 58, was allowed to set up a firewood
A JUDGE slammed prison chiefs who allowed convicted Fenland fraudster Nicholas Wattiez to start a new business from jail which he then used as a front to fleece customers and suppliers of thousands of pounds.
Wattiez, 58, was allowed to set up a firewood business as part of his pre-release training, but used much of the time allowed to do dodgy furniture deals, pocketing cash without delivering the goods, while he was still a serving prisoner, the Crown Court at Peterborough was told.
Wattiez, who had a flat in Brampton Road, Huntingdon, was jailed for five years and disqualified from being a company director for a further 15 years.
Seven years ago Wattiez was convicted and jailed in his absence for eight years for defrauding suppliers and clients of over £2 million. The following year he was arrested and began his sentence.
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On Friday Judge Patrick Moloney described Wattiez as an "incorrigible rogue" who was unable to go straight. He criticised the prison authorities for enabling Wattiez to start up in business which continued despite police warning the prison service.
"Anybody hearing this story would think it incredible that you could trade in hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of business and then go home each night to sleep in a cell," Judge Moloney said.
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The court heard Wattiez, who admitted six business fraud offences, was allowed to work at premises he used near Peterborough three or four days a week but had to return to Latchmere House resettlement prison in Surrey each evening.
Rupert Mayo, prosecuting, said Wattiez was allowed to set up a firewood business called Logs Unlimited while at the jail, but this was used as a front and Wattiez returned to what he knew best - ripping off customers.
The court heard Wattiez was behind the firms Rainbow Wholesale and Westminster Trading and was involved in the buying and selling of furniture, with both his customers and suppliers either not receiving goods or payment. In one case the same conservatory was sold to two customers.
Mr Mayo told how around £250,000 had been "laundered" through a bank account belonging to Wattiez's brother Charles.
Last month businessman Charles Wattiez, from Houghton, was cleared of involvement in the scam at the Crown Court after the jury decided he had not known cheques were the proceeds of crime.
Maria Dineen, defending, said Wattiez was "truly remorseful" for what had happened and that for the majority of the time he had been trading with honest intent.