MP intervenes in ‘Duke of Marlborough’ King’s Cross hotel fraud case
PUBLISHED: 18:40 21 September 2015 | UPDATED: 18:40 21 September 2015
The sentencing of a serial fraudster who posed as an aristocrat while running up more than £10,000 in bills at luxury hotels has been adjourned, after a distinguished MP raised concerns about his mental health.
Alexander Wood, 33, admitted to going on a spree at a number of top London hotels in binges which saw him splash out on expensive rounds of drinks for fellow guests.
The former child prodigy at the violin targeted 10 hotels over a six-week period between May and July this year, often pretending to be a British Airways employee.
One episode even saw him pose as the 12th Duke of Marlborough, Lord Jamie Spencer-Churchill, during a four-night stay at the Great Northern Hotel in King’s Cross.
Beverley Akinbile, prosecuting, told Southwark Crown Court today: “The defendant arrived at the [Great Northern Hotel] and booked in under the name of Jamie Spencer the Duke of Marlborough. The cost of the room was £1,878. He said there was an agreement whereby the hotel would let him spend £100 a day on incidentals and this was to be added to the bill. While he was there he accumulated a bill of £2,278 for four nights.
“Members of staff became suspicious because although his spending allowance was £100 he spent £124 on food and drink and was purchasing drinks for other guests at the hotel.”
Security staff confronted Wood and asked him for identification, something he had not been asked for before because they “believed he was a VIP and didn’t think it was appropriate to ask”, the prosecutor said.
Wood “became evasive” and pretended to have left his identification in his room, the court heard. He disappeared upstairs and later tried to flee the hotel without paying, but police were called and he was arrested near the hotel.
He was bailed, and while out continued on a spree at a string of other top hotels in London while posing as a British Airways employee under the name of Mr Palmer.
He was due for sentencing today but following the receipt of a letter by Wood’s MP, Sir David Amess, the case was adjourned.
Sir David wrote of his concern for Wood’s mental health and suggested a mental health assessment be carried out.
Wood insisted he was not mentally ill and stuck by a previous claim that he had booked into the hotels under false names because his life was under threat at the time.
The judge Recorder David Jeremy QC, outlined the defence’s version of events telling the court: “He was a child prodigy, an international violin soloist.
“He set up a highly successful business and a spat with an employee led to him being under threat of his life and led to the interaction with the police and the commission of these offences.”
Defence barrister Adil Syed told the court his client “was living the high life” because he wanted to maintain the flash lifestyle he had grown accustomed to.
He said: “In my submission he wanted to try to maintain that lifestyle, going into these hotels in Mayfair and purporting to be the Duke of Marlborough. He is perhaps trying to live up to a status he didn’t really have.”
Wood, of Westcliff Park Drive in Southend, Essex, admitted 10 fraud charges and one count of making or supplying articles for use in fraud. He also admitted to one count of making off without payment and one of failing to surrender to a court at an appointed time.
A pre-sentence report was ordered and Wood was remanded in custody for sentence on October 23 at Southwark Crown Court.
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