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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Charity 'boss' admits 38,000 con
Court graphic
A conman who spared no expense when he organised a lavish charity event costing 38,000, has been jailed for eight months.

Christopher Mitchell, 23, of Elstree near Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, hired the Orangery at Kensington Palace, claiming to run the charity Children's Celebrations.

He invited celebrities, MPs and royalty, and booked the City of London Orchestra to entertain guests.

But St Albans Crown Court heard that Mitchell lived in a fantasy world - his charity did not exist and he had no money to pay for the event.

Your fantasy world has fallen down around you

Judge Findlay Baker QC

Just 20 people attended the fund-raiser on 16 May last year, but Mitchell had run up debts of 38,000.

Mitchell, a part-time agency worker, has admitted fraudulent trading.

The court was told that after the event, the police were called in.

Mitchell had formed a company called Children's Celebrations Ltd in 1998, but it had never traded or submitted any accounts.

He admitted writing cheques knowing he had no funds, forging a letter and stalling creditors.

Cheques bounced

Anya Lewis, defending, said Mitchell had been well-intentioned and the criminal acts had not been planned.

She said he had already paid off half the money owed to his creditors after his parents had lent him the funds by re-mortgaging their home.

She said he was repaying his debts at 400 a month.

Judge Findlay Baker QC disqualified Mitchell from being a company director for five years and ordered him to pay 4,800 to the losers.

The Judge told him: "Your fantasy world has fallen down around you."

He went on to say that Mitchell had abused his authority by making "extravagant claims" about the company and had then bounced cheques and "lied unscrupulously."


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19 Dec 02 | England
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