A FORMER Ellesmere pub landlord who tried to carry out cheque fraud amounting to nearly £1.9m was jailed for five years at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

Christopher Peach, 51 and formerly landlord at the Black Lion pub in Market Street, was jailed for 19 counts of fraud by false representation on Monday, December 4 by Judge Anthony Lowe.

Judge Lowe agreed with prosecutor Kiran Pourawal’s assessment that Peach’s efforts to defraud a number of businesses by writing cheques and then claiming refunds was well thought-out.


He said: “It was sophisticated, planned and over three years, and was planned to get around the bankruptcy order by changing your name.

“You lied about where the funds were coming from and used false supporting docs to persuade your victims to transfer the money.

“The intended loss was almost double the £1million starting point and for me it has to be above seven years (in jail).

“I have to go on the amount alone and it is plainly aggravated by you committing a number of fraud and dishonesty offences in the past.

“I have to take into account the amount you got away with which was significantly lower than you tried and I take into account your mental health issues and over-optimism on raising money.

“The appropriate starting point is 7 ½ years and I take the view that no indication was given at magistrates court but you did indicate guilty at plea discussions (with police) so I reduce by one-third to five years.

“All sentences are concurrent between six months and five years for count 18 as the lead sentence.

“I sentence you that way to reflect the amount you tried to get and not the amount you successfully gained of £245,000.

“You will serve half of that sentence and the rest on licence.”

Earlier the court heard from Ms Pourawal that between October 2016 and November 2016, Peach, now of Wrexham, wrote a number of cheques to businesses including Terry Jones Solicitors for £450,000 when he was trying to buy the Black Lion using money he had fraudulently raised.

She added that Peach was given a 10-year bankruptcy order in Wrexham in 2014 but had changed his name to Chris Hill until 2019 and that all bar one offence took place with that name meaning he avoided due diligence.

All of the cheques were drawn from closed accounts or those with insufficient funds and then tried to claim refunds but stated he had made an electronic transfer.

She says that by writing a cheque it showed up as credit, albeit pending, but then withdrew funds before the victim was able to see the cheque had bounced.

Ms Pourawal added that he also lied repeatedly about the source of his funds and forged references, and that he had previous convictions with jail time for fraud and dishonesty.

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Defending Peach, Paul Smith told the court that Peach had some mental health difficulties and was also over-optimistic about raising money.

Mr Smith added that references in support of the defendant said ‘there is more to him than the frauds’, and that was a support to people in the community.

Judge Lowe added that count 18 – the cheque to Terry Jones Solicitors – would be his lead offence and sentenced him to five years.

Peach will return to court in 2024 after a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) order was also made.