A former Ellesmere pub landlord who was jailed for five years after carrying out cheque fraud worth almost £1.9m has been ordered by a judge to pay just £10 or face more time in prison.

Christopher Peach was 51 years old when he was sentenced in December last year for 19 counts of fraud by false representation.

The former landlord of the Black Lion pub in Market Street appeared before a judge at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Thursday (April 25) via a video link from HMP Oakwood where he is currently serving his sentence.

The judge was told by prosecuting barrister Philip Beardwell that Peach benefitted from £294,659.58. However, the court heard that Peach had no money left to pay back what he had gained from criminal activity.


Mr Beardwell said that police officers investigating the fraud had concluded international enquiries and found that there was no money abroad that could be seized.

Peach’s barrister Paul Smith added that the figure of almost £300,0000 came from the offences as well as interest from the delay in proceedings.

Judge Peter Barrie was asked by the prosecutor on behalf of the Crown to make a £10 nominal order which would mean Peach would have to pay within three months or face more time in prison.

"Nobody can pay back what they don’t have, however strong the case," the judge concluded.

"After exhaustive enquires Mr Peach has no money and I make an order of a nominal payment of £10."

Peach was jailed last year after defrauding a number of businesses by writing cheques and then claiming refunds.

The prosecutor at his sentencing hearing said the fraud was “sophisticated” and planned over three years to get around a bankruptcy order by changing his name.

The court was also told that between October and November 2016, Peach wrote a number of cheques to businesses including Terry Jones Solicitors for £450,000 when he was trying to buy the Black Lion pub using money he had fraudulently raised.

Peach was given a 10-year bankruptcy order in Wrexham in 2014 but had changed his name to Chris Hill until 2019. All but one of the offences took place with that name, meaning he was able to avoid due diligence.

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

The prosecution said 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.

Peach had 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.