Dramatic hunt for fraudster like TV plot

ATTEMPTED murder, fraud, police shoot-outs and a run-away suspect - the task of bringing Suffolk man Mark Henderson to justice could be a storyline from Miami Vice.

ATTEMPTED murder, fraud, police shoot-outs and a run-away suspect - the task of bringing Suffolk man Mark Henderson to justice could be a storyline from Miami Vice.

Detectives and lawyers today lifted the lid on their decade-long battle to bring absconding fraudster and attempted murderer Mark Henderson to justice.

As revealed in yesterday's Evening Star, the 40-year-old, who made tens of thousands by ripping off a string of small businesses in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, was eventually jailed in a British prison for his crimes.

Henderson was extradited to Suffolk last summer from a high security prison in the Spanish capital, Madrid, where he was serving an eight-year sentence for the attempted murder of a nightclub bouncer.

Other people involved admitted their part in the fraud, but Henderson had no intention of accepting his fate. Instead, he instructed his wife, Samantha, and mother-in-law Betty Cooper to pay a £20,000 surety before fleeing the country and heading for the sun and safety of Marbella.

Police monitored Mrs Henderson and, when she contacted her husband and booked flights to visit him, officers informed the Iberian authorities and headed to Spain but despite Spanish police waiting for him and shots being fired he escaped again.

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Detective constable Keith Johnson, from Suffolk police's fraud squad, was one of those who led the hunt.

He said: “We found out that his Henderson's wife was visiting him and found out when she was going to see him in 2000.

“We went over the day before she was going. The Spanish police were waiting for him and shots were fired, but he managed to get away and we didn't know where he was.”

However after a drunken evening in a Marbella nightclub, Henderson got into an argument with a bouncer. He left, returning soon after with a gun. He attempted to shoot the bouncer, but missed, striking someone else.

Henderson was convicted of attempted murder and jailed for eight years.

Dc Johnson said: “We always had an international arrest warrant out for him, right from when we first found he had gone to Spain, so as soon as he was convicted of attempted murder, the Crown Prosecution Service made the moves to get him back here.”

Dc Johnson, who was one of three detectives who travelled to Spain to collect their suspect, admitted there was huge relief when Henderson was finally snared.

He said: “We never stopped looking. You don't want the baddies getting away.”

At Henderson's hearing on Tuesday, he was punished for the fraud offences with a three-year jail term which will run consecutively with the remainder of his sentence for attempted murder.

Mrs Henderson was prosecuted for perverting the course of justice at Basildon Crown Court in 1998 for her part in the escape. She was also ordered, along with her mother, to forfeit the £10,000 surety.

What do you make of the case? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

HENDERSON'S CRIMES

First arrested in the mid 1990s when police uncovered a £980,000 fraud operation, of which Henderson was a major player.

During a 22-month period between June 1993 and April 1995, four phoney companies were created with the intention of obtaining goods on credit and then not paying for them.

False references were provided to credit companies and the proceeds of the sale of the goods were cashed.

Each of the companies only traded for a few months before vacating their premises and no proper business records were found for them.

Fled the Britain for safety of Marbella while on bail.

Eventually jailed for the attempted murder of a nightclub bouncer before being brought back to Britain to face his fate over his earlier crimes.