Thursday 16 April 2009

News

Press Releases

10 September 2004

1 page


6 years' for “Phoenix” companies stripped of cash

Christopher Woodhead was sentenced in absentia today to six years' imprisonment at Leeds Crown Court, for using phoenix companies to steal over £433,000 from companies supplying Yorkshire householders with wall coating products. He was disqualified for 12 years from acting as a company director and ordered to pay confiscation of some £428,000 within twelve months or serve a further three years imprisonment in default.

Christopher Woodhead (born 19/02/53) of Leeds set up and through persons appointed by him controlled companies (now in liquidation) that promoted external texture coating for properties by direct marketing methods to the home-owning public in the Yorkshire area. These companies included:

  • Midland Coating Company Ltd (“Midland Coating”)
  • Weather Protection Company Ltd (“Weather Protection”)
  • Seal Point Ltd (“Seal Point”)

These and other companies were set up between March 1998 and February 1999, and were systematically milked by Woodhead of cash for personal benefit. The cash taken out of the companies (as set out in the charges) totalled over £433,000. The withdrawals could not be accounted for by payment of wages or any other “company purpose”.

Dissatisfied customers brought the matter to the attention of the local press and complained to the West Yorkshire Police who referred the case to the Serious Fraud Office. In May 2000 a joint SFO and police investigation was launched.

In August 2002 Woodhead was charged with offences under the Theft Act 1968 and released on unconditional bail. At the arraignment hearing on 8 May 2003 he pleaded not guilty.

Trial was set for 16 June 2004 at Leeds Crown Court but on the day ahead of trial Woodhead's solicitors received notification from him of his intention not to attend. He had disappeared. However the case against him went ahead on the planned date in his absence before HHJ Shaun Spencer QC.

There is a warrant for Woodhead's arrest.


Notes for editors

A press release was issued on 27 July 2004 announcing the verdict and providing background details on the case. See www.sfo.gov.uk, click News.

Sentence breaks down as 3 years (concurrent) for counts 1 and 4, 3 years for count 11 (consecutive) and for all other counts 18 months (concurrent).


Serious Fraud Office

Elm House, 10-16 Elm Street,
London WC1X 0BJ

Press Office tel. 020 7239 7000/7004

© The Serious Fraud Office. All Rights Reserved 2008.