Scam builder who fled to Channel Islands as he faced jail term back in the dock

Conman builder John Jenkins had two extra weeks added to his original six year sentence this afternoon after he was found and arrested by police in his hospital bed.

John Jenkins
John Jenkins

Long-haired Jenkins, who conned a vulnerable and lonely widow from Berkhamsted out of half a million pounds, did not turn up for the last day of his trial on Monday February 24 when a jury convicted him of a fraud on Josephine Stubbings, a lady who he had befriended.

His lawyer Andrew Campbell told the court that Jenkins, 70, had fled to Jersey in the Channel Islands and hid in a hotel, where he took an overdose of tablets and drank far too much.

The jury found him guilty in his absence and he was sentenced to six years in prison, before a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Today St Albans crown court heard that Jenkins ended up in hospital in Jersey, where he told staff he was wanted by Hertfordshire police. Local officers were alerted and he caught a flight back to Gatwick Airport.

Mr Campbell said: “He turned up two hours before he was expected and decided to make his way to local police station in Aylesbury.

“He got on a bus, but saw an off licence and obtained some more drink and tablets and took another overdose. The next thing he remembers is being in hospital in Surrey.”

Jenkins was arrested at the hospital by Herts police and brought back before Judge Andrew Bright QC, where he admitted breach of bail. The judge said: “You were in blatant breach of your bail conditions.”

He said he passed the shortest sentence because of the long six-year term he had been given by Recorder Simon Sterling.

Over three and a half years, a total of £532,695 passed from 67-year-old Josephine Stubbings to Jenkins for work that a surveyor said should have cost £60,000 at most.

The court heard that Jenkins had frittered the money away on shopping sprees and holidays to Spain and the USA.

In his defence, Jenkins said he had been “duped” by sub contractors he had hired to carry out the work.

When sentencing him, Recorder Stirling said it was “wholly implausible” for Jenkins to blame others. He said he had seen the opportunity to do work at Mrs Stubbings’ home as the “vehicle for the fraud.”

He said Jenkins had “cynically exploited” Mrs Stubbings, who he knew was a vulnerable victim.