Leeds fraudster Christopher Woodhead arrested in Spain after 15 years on run

A notorious Leeds fraudster has been arrested in Spain after 15 years on the run.

Thursday, 30th May 2019, 17:49 pm
Christopher Woodhead, pictured before his trial in 2004.

Christopher Woodhead disappeared in 2004, shortly before he was due to stand trial over a £400,000 swindle involving his Leeds-based housing repair firms.

He was found guilty in his absence and given a six-year jail term, with the judge in the case branding him an “amoral fraudster”.

Now the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has confirmed that 66-year-old Woodhead has been arrested.

A spokesman for the SFO told the Yorkshire Evening Post the arrest took place in Spain but was unable to make any further comment.

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According to unconfirmed reports, Woodhead was detained in the town of San Pedro de Alcantara, near Marbella.

One of his last known addresses prior to vanishing had been Merchants Quay, an apartment complex in the middle of Leeds.

His trial heard he controlled three Sheepscar-based firms – Midland Coating Company, Seal Point and the Weather Protection Company.

The YEP launched an investigation into Midland’s sales tactics in 1998 after an elderly widow from Pudsey was persuaded to spend £8,000 on a repair job that took just four hours to carry out.

Similar cases came to light and by the end of the year Midland had gone into voluntary liquidation, owing £360,000.

Fraud experts later found Woodhead had “systematically milked” Midland and his other firms, with more than £400,000 being siphoned off from their accounts.

He was charged in 2002 with offences under the Theft Act 1968 but, the day before his trial was scheduled to start at Leeds Crown Court in June 2004, his solicitors received word from him that he would not be attending.

A confiscation order for £428,089 was imposed on Woodhead, again in his absence, at Southwark Crown Court in September 2004.

The SFO said in 2017 that the confiscation order remained outstanding, with accumulated interest having taken the amount to be repaid to nearly £850,000.