Conman Targeted Ealing's Virgin Active Gym

Thousands of pounds worth of goods taken from lockers

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A conman who tricked his way into various branches of Virgin Active gyms - including Ealing's - and stole thousands of pounds in cash and goods has been jailed for five years.

The Old Bailey heard that Lee Manners, 23, from Sydenham stole designer watches, wallets and phones from businessmen to fund his "extravagant lifestyle".

In December he pretended to be a member at Virgin Active branches in the City, and rummaged through lockers.

A month earlier Manners had targeted the health club in Ealing Broadway.

Prosecutor Jonathan Ingram told the court how Manners strolled into the Ealing gym and within four minutes had entered the locker room and taken a Blackberry, iPhone and wallet, worth a total of about £850, and £100 cash. He left through a fire exit in the restaurant.

A month later he walked into Virgin Active in Old Broad Street and stole from the locker room another BlackBerry, an Omega watch and a wallet. Manners also helped himself to another wallet and bank cards. The total loss was £3,850.

He then crossed the road to the Aldersgate Street branch of Virgin Active and carried out the same con, taking a wallet and a £6,400 Jaeger-LeCoultre watch.

Manners, who had been jailed as a 17-year-old for attempted robbery with an imitation firearm was arrested shortly afterwards after being identified on CCTV by City of London detectives.

He admitted three theft charges and one count of fraud. Manners admitted to a probation officer that he had a "lawless lifestyle" and was "out of control".

Judge Recorder Michael Topolski QC said Manners was a "semi-professional criminal".
"You are someone who has no professional qualifications and has never really done any work, you just spend your time committing crime," he said. "What is clear to me is you committed these crimes for gain."

DC Darren Norman from City of London Police said : "Lee Manners is a conman and a thief. He used deceit and theft to earn a lot of money, but is now behind bars after good police work. Given his apparent passion for visiting the gym, let's hope his prison has somewhere he can work out."


22 June 2011









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