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Sentencing rescheduled for serial conmen who posed as F1 boss

Sentencing rescheduled for serial conmen who posed as F1 boss

A serial conman who posed as the chief operations officer of the Mercedes Formula 1 team to dupe hotel staff has again claimed he is too ill to attend his sentencing hearing.

Stuart Howatson also committed fraud by using his supposed position with Northamptonshire-based Mercedes to agree to buy computer security systems worth 1.1 million US dollars, £224,000 and 23,904 euro.

The 37-year-old - who was jailed in 2010 for inventing an illustrious police career - is facing further time behind bars after pleading guilty to 12 counts of fraud and a theft.

It is understood the offences between January and September 2014 netted food and accommodation worth almost £2,800 at hotels in Kidderminster and Leamington Spa.

Howatson, then living in Bewdley, Worcestershire, was jailed for 20 months at Hereford Crown Court six years ago after claiming to have served with the Metropolitan Police as an armed officer, dog handler and a protection officer to the Queen.

The fraudster, now of Fisher Road, Bishops Itchington, Warwickshire, was due to be sentenced for his latest offences at Warwick Crown Court but a doctor's note was presented in court by Howatson's barrister.

Judge Alan Parker read the letter from Howatson's GP, dated yesterday, which stated: "This gentleman is under the mental health crisis team, following an overdose, and is unable to attend court until March 7."

Howatson had appeared before the judge in court on Thursday last week, but his sentencing was put off to make way for another case and he then failed to attend the next day with those proceedings adjourned until today.

The judge was initially unsatisfied by the note from the GP and earlier on Friday issued a warrant for Howatson's arrest but it was later withdrawn following submissions by the conman's legal team, according to his solicitors.

The case has now been re-scheduled for Monday.

Today marked the second time the court has been unable to pass sentence on Howatson because of ill health.

The bogus F1 boss failed to attend his first delayed sentencing hearing on Friday last week, when the court heard that on that occasion his mother had telephoned his barrister after her son was taken to hospital by paramedics.

Following the court hearing, Howatson was seen leaving his house and getting into an ambulance before being taken to Warwick Hospital.

West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed it had attended a call reporting a medical emergency at the address, saying: "A man received treatment at the scene from medics and was subsequently transferred to hospital for further treatment.

Speaking afterwards, a spokesman for Howatson's solicitors Devine O'Keeffe said: "A warrant was issued.

"Further information was presented to the court and the warrant was withdrawn, and the case has now been listed for Monday."

Before his 2006 wedding, Howatson is reported to have told guests that former Met commissioner Sir John Stevens - who had a seat allocated to him - had been unable to attend due to a security issue.