Blandford admits theft and forgery

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE Marquess of Blandford, heir to the Duke of Marlborough's Blenheim Palace estate, stole a friend's cheque book and forged a number of cheques because she had failed to return pounds 3,000 she had borrowed for a Spanish holiday, a court was told yesterday.

But later, when asked by detectives about why he had done it, he said he had become 'vexed' by the matter with the result that he reacted in a manner which he conceded was 'stupid'.

At Horseferry Road magistrates' court, central London yesterday, he pleaded guilty to stealing a cheque book, four counts of forging cheques and one of evasion of liability to make a payment. However, he denied making off without paying a taxi fare and his pounds 5,000 bail was renewed, with the condition that must live at home in Chelsea, west London, or Blenheim Palace at weekends, and agree not to ride in taxis except when with a legal adviser.

During the 18-minute hearing, the former drug addict stood in the dock resting his hands on the rail and answered questions in a barely audible whisper.

David Archer, for the prosecution, said police had been alerted to the affair in February after a cheque he had made out to his former cleaner, Emelline Velasquez, had been returned by her bank saying the cheque book had been reported stolen.

Blandford, 38, was arrested almost two weeks later as he left a London nightclub and taken to his flat where the empty cheque book belonging to Emma Parker-Bowles was found behind a radiator. He told detectives that she had stayed at his flat last year after being thrown out of her home and had left the cheque book with other possession in some boxes.

But he decided to forge some cheques after she had failed to repay him the money for flights and a holiday to Ibiza, Mr Archer said.

'His fatal mistake . . . was to bounce a forged cheque on his former cleaner,' he said. 'She didn't notice it was in the name of Miss Parker-Bowles and deposited it at Barclays Bank. Later she was told it was stolen.'

The case was adjourned until 12 May.

(Photograph omitted)