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Fugitive conman Keith Matthews hiding in caravan in woods

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A conman who went into hiding after he preyed on the elderly in a TV aerial scam has been captured by the police.

Keith Matthews (59) failed to attend his trial, which went ahead without him.

He was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in his absence.

Matthews, who had a warrant out for his arrest, was found living in a caravan near Swithland Wood, Woodhouse Eaves, on Wednesday night.

He appeared at Leicester Crown Court yesterday and admitted breaching his bail by failing to attend the court hearing on June 3 – and then going on the run.

Judge Simon Hammond told the defendant, who appeared unshaven, wearing a T-shirt and a tweed jacket: "Because you didn't turn up for trial, you were tried in your absence and convicted on June 21.

"You're now going to start your three-year sentence."

He ordered Matthews to return to court on July 8, so the original trial judge, Philip Head, could deal with him for breaching his bail.

Defence advocate Helen Johnson told the hearing: "He was arrested last night, fairly locally."

Matthews had previously been exposed in a BBC Rogue Traders television programme in 2008 for similar malpractice, although he was not prosecuted in relation to that.

During the five-day trial, the jurors were not given a reason for Matthews's absence.

They heard he had overcharged customers, including an 89-year-old Braunstone man who paid £4,900 for a £490 job, which had been "shoddily carried out".

Leicestershire County Council's trading standards department caught Matthews and his employee, Luke Busby, in a sting operation.

The department hired an actress to play the part of a vulnerable elderly occupant of a bungalow in Hospital Lane, Blaby, that was fitted out with microphones and 12 hidden cameras.

They filmed Busby misdiagnosing a simple aerial cable problem and wrongly recommending a new aerial.

Matthews, formerly of Station Road, Quorn, was convicted of four frauds, eight offences of engaging in unfair commercial practice and one of running fraudulent businesses, One Digital and Aerials Direct, between April 2011 and March last year.

Busby (26), of Leicester Road, Countesthorpe, who gave evidence against Matthews, was given a 12-month community order, with 120 hours of unpaid work, with £1,080 court costs.

Fugitive conman  Keith Matthews hiding  in caravan in woods


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