Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Britain's most wanted man has been arrested in Spain – after four years on the run.

13:49 |

Britain's most wanted man has been arrested in Spain – after four years on the run.
Ronald Priestley, 69, from Colton, Leeds, masterminded a £4.25m banknote counterfeit fraud.He was sentenced to eight years in his absence four years ago.Priestley was arrested in Malaga. A world-wide hunt for him was launched when he failed to attend a Leeds Crown Court hearing in August 2005 to face charges of conspiracy to counterfeit £20 banknotes with a face value of £4.25m.He had disappeared from his luxury home in Colton. The house was protected by electric fences and guard dogs.
In their hunt for Priestley police urged Spain's expatriate British community on the Costa del Sol to help bring the pensioner, orginally from Bramley, to justice.
Priestley had a criminal past in counterfeiting long before 2005. In December 2002 he was stripped of more than £2.2m at Bradford Crown Court.Police raids on his home in Park Road, Colton, and factories near Huddersfield, had netted 138,000 bottles of fake fragrances and 1,500 bottles of Spanish sparkling wine relabelled as Moet et Chandon champagne.Officers also found £104,000 cash hidden in secret compartments at his home.In April that year he had been jailed for 18 months after admitting three counts of conspiracy to sell or distribute counterfeit goods – but was released early from jail.Priestley was arrested as part of crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers' Operation Captura, which has identified criminals living in Spain wanted in the UK. Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency work closely with British Embassy and Spanish law enforcement agencies.Priestley was featured in the campaign's first 10 appeals in October 2006. He is the 25th out of 50 wanted individuals arrested in the past 10 days.

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