Americans to put Mr Woodz trickster on trial
VICTIMS of conman Christopher Baines will have to wait to see him return to the UK to face justice as he is set to stand trial in the USA.
The former manager of the Mr Woodz furniture shop in the Brunel Centre was sentenced to five years in prison on 30 counts of fraud in August 2013 during a four-day trial at Swindon Crown Court which went ahead in his absence.
Baines had fled the country in January 2012 while on police bail, and adopted the alias of Christopher George Bartholo-mew while taking up residencies in Canada, Florida, and finally Georgia.
After further allegations came to light Baines was apprehended by the sheriff’s office of Madison County after they tracked him down to a hotel in San Antonio, Texas in November of last year.
Following discussions between police forces on both sides of the Atlantic, Baines will now face charges in Georgia after being extradited there from Texas.
In December the Morgan County Grand Jury returned an indictment for Christopher Baines, aka Christopher George Bartholomew, 48, from Madison, on one count of financial transaction card fraud, one count of theft by taking, and one count of influencing a witness.
According to indictments and arrest warrants, Baines, aka Bartholomew, conducted a fraudulent financial card transaction with a woman and, later allegedly threatened the woman with injury.
Baines will now face trial on April 22 at Morgan County Court having been remanded in custody until the trial date.
One of Baines’ ex-girlfriends in America, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she hoped he would serve his sentence in the UK sooner rather than later.
“My fear has always been that he will get out again, and that fear is coming back now,” she said.
“The great hope that I have is that he will someday return to England to face the justice system here. “They have gone to great trouble to get a conviction, and after going to such lengths they should want him to return to the country and serve that time.
“He has been behind bars for a long time awaiting trial after his indictment.
“I just hope the people of England want him brought back sooner rather than later to face up to what he has done.”
Jody Johnson, one of Baines’ customers at the Mr Woodz store, wants him returned to the country as soon as possible to finally have some closure.
“It is good to hear that he might be part of the way to coming back now,” she said. “He needs to serve his time now. All those people here suffered the consequences of his actions. “I was heavily pregnant and was left with no way to furnish my house. My baby was due six weeks later and I had lost all my savings so I had to take out a credit card to furnish my new home.
“I would like him back here and serving his time so I can feel like the whole thing is finished. “He has been able to wander around the world getting away with it while those of us in Swindon have suffered.”