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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 19:44 GMT 20:44 UK
Ostrich farm fraudster is jailed
Martin Evans with some of his ostriches
Martin Evans is also serving a 21-year sentence for drug-dealing
A former Young Businessman of the Year for Wales has been sentenced to four years for an investment fraud which saw more than 100 people lose 900,000.

Martin Evans, 44, from Swansea, is already serving 21 years for drug and money laundering offences.

Evans set up an ostrich breeding business as in 1995 but it collapsed, leaving investors with nothing.

He admitted theft, fraudulent trading and acting as a director while bankrupt.

The sentences will run concurrently.

Evans began the ostrich-breeding business with his wife Esther Marie Evans in the Dunvant area of Swansea in 1995. He targeted newly-retired people by advertising in specialist retirement magazines.

More than 100 investors put a total of nearly 900,000 into the scheme after Evans promised profits of 70% a year.

But much of the money was channelled into offshore accounts in Jersey and the Bahamas.

Evans and his wife were arrested and charged with theft and fraudulent trading, but on the day their trial was due to start in Swansea in March 2000, Evans jumped bail and sent a fax to the court saying he would not be attending.

Esther Evans
Esther Evans received a non-custodial sentence
Mrs Evans was found guilty of four charges of theft and one of fraudulent trading and given a two-year suspended sentence.

Gregg Taylor, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court Martin Evans went on the run to Spain and Holland with a girlfriend from where he masterminded a multi-million-pound drugs and money laundering operation.

He brought at least 3m worth of ecstasy and cocaine into the UK.

Heightened security

Mr Taylor said Evans was caught when he tried to use a false passport under the name of Paul Kelly to enter the US in November 2001. Heightened security following 11 September 2001 led to his passport being detected.

He was flown back to Paris and arrested and eventually extradited to the UK where he was sentenced to 24 years after a trial in Swansea Crown Court.

That sentence was reduced on appeal to 21 years.

On 11 April this year, Evans pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to nine of 11 charges relating to the ostrich investment.

Huw Davies, defending, said Evans had intended to make a success of the ostrich venture.

Judge Michael Burr said if the farm had not been a scam from start to finish, Evans had quickly seen his chance to enrich himself at others' expense.

The judge lifted long-running reporting restrictions on Tuesday, allowing details of Evans' earlier jail sentence to be published.

Evans was formally found not guilty of 23 charges of conspiracy to defraud, procuring and theft in relation to another investment scheme involving slimming food called Aurum Marketing.

He was also cleared of a charge of using a false passport.

Mr Taylor said authorities were trying to trace Evans' assets in six countries. A 2m villa in Marbella had already been identified and there would be orders for confiscation and compensation orders made in the future.

"I did my best to make sure I wasn't being taken for a ride"



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