Threats over debts blamed for bank scam

WHEN riddled with debts to money lenders, Russell Hamilton played his part in a well organised bank scam, a court heard. His account was used to pay in a stolen cheque for almost £15,000, which he was able to draw from before it had been cleared. He obtai

WHEN riddled with debts to money lenders, Russell Hamilton played his part in a well organised bank scam, a court heard.

His account was used to pay in a stolen cheque for almost £15,000, which he was able to draw from before it had been cleared.

He obtained £1,500 cash from a money shop in Stevenage. He claimed he handed it straight over to those who were putting him under pressure.

Hamilton told police that his life had been threatened if he did not co-operate and threats were also made against his two young children.

Janette Haynes, prosecuting at Luton Crown Court last week, said the cheque involved was one of five sent out automatically and unsolicited to a man who had recently opened a Halifax card account.

It never arrived, but because it was not expected its disappearance did not raise suspicions.

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Hamilton, 27, of Long Leaves, Stevenage, pleaded guilty to three charges related to acquiring criminal property. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment with an additional two weeks for not answering his bail.

Kate Lumbers, defending, said the offences dated back to 2005 and since then he had turned his life around. He was now a student in sports studies at the University of Hertfordshire and also worked part time to support his family.

Judge Geoffrey Breen told Hamilton: "I accept others were behind what was clearly an organised criminal enterprise and your involvement was limited.