Victims’ relief as fraudster jailed
CHRISTOPHER Baines’ victims have welcomed the fact the fraudster is finally behind bars after three years.
Baines, 48, originally of Cheshire, was convicted of 54 counts of fraud committed at the Mr Woodz furniture shop in the Brunel Centre in 2011.
After absconding from the country, Baines left a trail of other victims while living in Canada and Georgia, and was finally arrested last October in San Antonio, Texas.
After admitting further counts of fraud at Madison County Court, Baines was extradited back to this country on July 31 where he is now serving five years.
Lorraine Cheesley, one of Baines’ victims, said: “This is great news, at last he will serve the time he deserves.
“It's upsetting that all those customers that were conned have lost a lot of money.”
Jody Johnson, another of his victims, said she was disappointed nothing was done to prevent Baines continuing his fraudulent behaviour after absconding.
“I lost all my savings and had no way of retrieving them because I paid cash so I had no credit card payment protection,” she said.
“It upset me all the more because I was heavily pregnant at the time. Mr Baines was well aware that I had saved for a long time for that furniture, some of which was for my little one’s nursery.
“I ended up having to pay for more furniture on a credit card, because I had just moved and had no furniture.
“I had to return to work early following the birth of the baby because I needed to pay the credit card bill.
“I only bought cheap furniture the second time, but it all mounts up, especially on maternity leave.
“It was very upsetting at the time. Now it’s just frustrating, and I would at least like to know he is repaying his debts.
“The idea of him on a jolly around America scamming other people is just horrid.
“I feel so sorry that we haven't been able to prevent all these new victims having their hard-earned money wasted.”
Clive Read, part of the financial investigation team at Wiltshire Police said: “This fantastic result is the outcome of a detailed process involving partners both in the UK and the USA.
“Christopher Baines defrauded a large number of people in Swindon and I hope they now feel that justice has been served.
“This extradition process has involved partners from Wiltshire Police, the Crown Prosecution Service in London, officials at Washington, the Assistant District Attorney in Georgia right down to the County Sheriff.
“I hope this case illustrates that no matter how fast or far you run, you cannot avoid justice forever.”
To report an incident of fraud, call Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.