A FRAUDSTER'S decade and a half on the run has ended following an enforcement hearing at Leeds Magistrates’ Court today.

In 2004, Christopher Woodhead was sentenced to six years and four months in prison, following a joint prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office and West Yorkshire Police.

He went on the run the day before his trial started and was only extradited back to the UK from Spain earlier this year.

Today he was handed down an additional three years default sentence in relation to an unpaid confiscation order of £428,000. With interest, the amount now owing is £900,000.

Between 1997 and 1999, Woodhead ran a series of chemical paint companies that targeted residential properties across Yorkshire. He systematically milked cash from each of them for his personal benefit.

Using fictitious invoices, loans and direct cash transfers to move money between his companies, he illicitly withdrew nearly £450,000, spending it on gambling debts, holiday travel, his ex-wife’s maintenance payments, personal expenses, property and cars.

Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: “This man’s brazen decade and a half on the run is finally at an end and I am pleased to see him behind bars and serving a sentence for his crimes.

“This case should send a clear message that we will always persist in our pursuit of justice.”

Officer in the case, Detective Constable Neil Bottomley, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “Woodhead defrauded innocent people out of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and his total lack of remorse was evident when he didn’t face his victims or the courts and instead went on the run.

“Fifteen years later, he now faces a lengthy prison sentence and a £900,000 fine. His sentence shows time is no barrier to prosecution and we will pursue you until we get justice for the victims involved.”

Dissatisfied customers originally brought Woodhead’s actions to the attention of West Yorkshire Police and the local press with allegations he had been overcharging, with customer bills running into the thousands of pounds for little actual work.

Woodhead had attempted to avoid scrutiny and carry on his scams by creating a series of “phoenix” companies, transferring assets from one company to the new one whilst making the old company insolvent, leaving it with only debts.

The companies involved included: Midland Coating Company Ltd; Weather Protection Company Ltd; and Seal Point Ltd.

The SFO charged Woodhead with 13 offences under the Theft Act 1968 in 2002, but Woodhead absconded from justice the day before his trial was due to start.

He was arrested in Madrid, Spain, on May 21, 2019. It is believed he had been residing in Marbella.