iPad scammer’s secrecy bid

It was a cunning disguise, but it didn’t stop Nathan Meunch and his partner in crime facing justice at a court in Shropshire.

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Man of mystery – Nathan Meunch arrives at Shrewsbury Crown Court for sentencing, and, right, at an earlier hearing

Meunch, 29, decided to walk into Shrewsbury Crown Court with a paper bag over his head yesterday.

But he had done his homework – he had ripped out two holes so that he could see where he was going.

The former doorman, together with his partner in crime Nigel Bennett both received community orders for taking part in an “hair-brained” scheme to claim compensation that involved sending a parcel of ice cubes through the post.

The pair had tried to claim £2,500 for an iPad that didn’t exist, but were thwarted by staff at a post office in the county who alerted the Royal Mail’s fraud squad.

Nigel Bennett
Nigel Bennett

Bennett, 39, who ran Rechabite Hall in Tan Bank Wellington, received a 12-month community order after admitting fraud for his part in the “hair-brained” compensation scam with his former doorman, Meunch.

The pair were jointly responsible for a bungled con in which they sent a parcel full of ice cubes insured as iPad screens worth £2,500 and then claimed compensation when they did not arrive.

But what they did not know was the package had burst open in the post office on Market Street, Wellington, where staff alerted the Royal Mail fraud squad.

Meunch, 29, of Leegomery, walked into court wearing a bag over his head with two eye holes cut out, had denied fraud and blamed the scheme on Bennett.

But Meunch was found guilty by a jury at Shrewsbury Crown Court on July 11 and was reunited with Bennett in the dock for sentencing.

Bennett, formerly of Culmington, Stirchley, but who now lives in Cornwall and earns £28,000 a year working as an engineer, had pleaded guilty to the March 14 fraud.

Defending Bennett, Mr Denis Desmond, said: “The reason he did this was he was running a music hall and could not raise the money to rent the venue.

“He hatched this not just unsuccessful but rather pathetic plan.”

The court heard in 2008 Bennett was sentenced to three years in prison for possession with intent to supply the class A drug ecstasy.

In the same year, Meunch pleaded guilty to a charge of possession or acquisition of criminal property at Telford Magistrates Court, relating to ordering goods and not paying VAT.

Sentencing, Recorder Christopher Hotten QC said to Bennett: “You accept responsibility for the idea of this offence. You were short of money and you wanted to make some money. You prepared a package containing ice cubes which was represented to contain iPad screens.

“You, Mr Meunch, took it to the post office and dispatched it and it was you who submitted a compensation claim.

“The plan was unsuccessful. The ice melted and the post office were quite well aware within an hour that this was a scam.”

He sentenced each man to a 12- month community order and 150 hours of unpaid work. They must also each pay £500 towards prosecution costs within six months.