Jail for serial fraudster who posed as 12th Duke of Marlborough in hotel scam

Alexander Wood admitted posing as the 12th Duke of Marlborough

Alexander Wood admitted posing as the 12th Duke of Marlborough - Credit: Archant

A serial fraudster who posed as an aristocrat while running up more than £10,000 in bills at luxury hotels has been jailed

Alexander Wood, 34, admitted 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 violin prodigy 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, had told Southwark Crown Court: “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.

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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.

Defence barrister Adil Syed had 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, Southend, Essex, was jailed for three and a half years at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday.

He had 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

Investigating officer, Det Con Keeley Pemberton from Westminster CID said: “This was an audacious and brazen string of offences committed over a prolonged period of time. The regularity of the offences committed by Wood undoubtedly played a part in bringing his crimes to notice.”