COURT: Harrogate fraudster conned top Yorkshire hotels

Mark Chapman. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).
Mark Chapman. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).

A confidence trickster racked up restaurant and hotel bills worth over £3,000 after conning some of the region’s finest establishments during a nine-month fraud spree.

Mark Chapman, 37, from Harrogate, stayed at luxury hotels and dined out on fine wine and haute cuisine after making bookings on LateRooms.com.

During some of the bookings, the smooth-talking charmer claimed to be a doctor.

As Chapman soaked up the hospitality, he promised staff he would pay later, only to disappear leaving a trail of debt, York Crown Court heard.

The first restaurant to be duped was Frankie and Benny’s restaurant in Selby, where Chapman spent almost nine hours eating and drinking. The marathon feast, on August 23, 2014, cost £119.

On November 5, Chapman booked a two-night stay at the luxury Lowther Hotel in Goole. When he booked another room to extend his stay, hotel manager Howard Duckworth asked him for his credit card details. Chapman left the hotel promising to get them, but failed to return.

In December, he booked a room at the Crown Hotel, in Pateley Bridge.

He told staff he had been working in the area and proceeded to rack up a £493 bill on food, drink and accommodation during a four-day stay. .

On January 26, 2015, Chapman booked a room at the Golden Lion in Settle, where his two night stay came to £689.60. Four months later, he booked a room at the White Hart Hotel in Harrogate. He checked in after running up a £72 bar bill at the Fat Badger pub, but his credit card details were declined at the hotel. Chapman left owing £366 and the later used false details to buy a £160 gift voucher from the hotel over the phone.

On November 19, he ran up a bill for £1,222 during a four-night stay at the Cresswell Arms in Malton.

Prosecutor Geraldine Kelly said the total loss to the six establishments conned by Chapman was £3,352.

Chapman, of Hamilton Road, appeared for sentence on Monday after admitting six counts of fraud.

The court heard he had dozens of previous convictions for fraud and theft dating back 20 years. During his latest fraud spree, he was on prison licence following a 30-month stretch for similar offences.

Chapman’s lawyer Kristian Kavanagh said Chapman had spent over 10 years of his life in jail and led “quite a sad, pathetic lifestyle” pretending he was somebody he was not.

But Judge Paul Batty QC said Chapman had enjoyed “the high life, running up huge bills left, right and centre in Yorkshire”, at the expense of some of the region’s top hoteliers and restaurant owners.

“These good, hard-working people have lost out and I’m quite sure you couldn’t care less,” added Mr Batty.

“Each time they wanted their money you fobbed them off with lies, confidence tricks. You are a fraudster with an appalling record.”

Chapman was jailed for two years.