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Overweight conman Christopher Hoare caught at Ashford's Eastwell Manor hotel posing as professional rugby player

Eastwell Manor hotel in Ashford

Conman Christopher Hoare was caught at Eastwell Manor hotel

by Dan Bloom

Staff at a luxury Kent hotel caught an overweight wanted conman - when he posed as a professional rugby player.

Serial fraudster Christopher Hoare, 30, cheated people across Britain before turning up at Eastwell Manor under a fake name in October.

A court heard he racked up a £2,400 bill over his six-night stay at the four-star Ashford hotel, which charges up to £445 a night.

He gave a fraudulent credit card number and claimed a fictional body called Sports England Training was picking up the tab.

"(he) appeared, putting it neutrally, not to have the physique and healthy appearance that one might associate with a professional rugby player..." – tom dunn, prosecuting

But Hoare, of no fixed address, was exposed when he boasted to the hotel owner how he was a rugby player on transfer from Cardiff Blues to London Wasps.

Tom Dunn, prosecuting, said: "By then Mr Hoare had been wearing the same clothes for a few days and appeared, putting it neutrally, not to have the physique and healthy appearance that one might associate with a professional rugby player.

"That, combined with the general attitude, made the hotel manager not quite believe him."

The manager called Visa, who told him Hoare had used a Natwest card. When he called Natwest, they told him to ring the police.

Canterbury Crown CourtHoare was arrested and admitted five charges of false representation, two of theft, one of criminal damage and one of harassment.

It emerged Hoare, a gambling addict, was on the run after conning a string of innocent people.

John Fitzgerald, defending, said: "It's quite clear gambling is at the heart of all his offending. He knows his life will be of little value until he has conquered that addiction."

Despite his string of offences, Hoare was spared jail at Canterbury Crown Court.

Instead he was handed a year's jail - suspended for two years - a year's supervision order and 150 hours of unpaid work.

Judge James O'Mahony told him: "You have behaved as a complete conman.

"You used your quantities of intelligence and ingenuity, using all the modern media and aspects of contemporary life, to rip off other people.

"You clearly have a serious problem with gambling that means you were driven to commit offences. If you had only used the intelligence and ingenuity you obviously have, things might have improved."

He added: "If you don't do what you are told, back here you come."

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