Sheffield fraudster run half marathon on day release from prison

James Burdall, jailed for fraud, competing in the Yorkshire Half Marathon on day release from prison.

James Burdall, jailed for fraud, competing in the Yorkshire Half Marathon on day release from prison.

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This is jailed Sheffield fraudster James Burdall on day release from prison – taking part in the city’s half marathon.

James Burdall, aged 50, of Cottage Lane, Bents Green, was jailed for four years last March after he swindled his millionaire best friend out of £1.2 million to prop up his failing companies.

James Burdall, jailed for fraud, competing in the Yorkshire Half Marathon on day release from prison.

James Burdall, jailed for fraud, competing in the Yorkshire Half Marathon on day release from prison.

His scam cost 480 people their jobs – including 350 at Meadowhall – after he siphoned off cash from former Little Chef boss Lawrence Wosskow’s ice cream and restaurant firm.

Burdall completed the Yorkshire Half Marathon in a time of two hours, seven minutes and 16 seconds, finishing 3,751st in the 13.2-mile race.

Today Mr Wosskow said: “I cannot believe that someone who is supposed to be paying for his criminal activities can be allowed out to enjoy and take part in a celebrated sports event. I am appalled. It makes a mockery of all the suffering he has created for hundreds of people who lost their jobs in the Sheffield area.

“Some of whom are still out of work and have little chance of replacing the income he so blatantly took away from them with his greed and callousness.

The indoor swimming pool at the home of fraudster James Burdall, who has been jailed for four years.

The indoor swimming pool at the home of fraudster James Burdall, who has been jailed for four years.

“It’s an absolute disgrace.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Prisoners may be released on temporary licence to work, volunteer or spend time with their families providing they meet strict criteria and pass a rigorous risk assessment.

“We work hard to help offenders maintain strong family ties as they can significantly cut reoffending.”

Burdall, who is serving in Hatfield Prison, Doncaster, had agreed to look after his best friend’s businesses after Mr Wosskow suffered a heart attack and moved to Florida for a quieter life.

But instead he splashed out £1.2m of company cash on an indoor swimming pool, overseas property, fine art and private school fees for his children.

When the severity of his betrayal was unearthed, Out of Town Leisure Group, which ran several food outlets in Meadowhall, was forced to shut.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Burdall was investigated by financial crime detectives from July 2010 after they were contacted by Mr Wosskow.

Mr Wosskow owned several businesses including Bradwells Ice Cream and Out Of Town Leisure Group.

Burdall and Mr Wosskow had been old school pals and became close again decades later through a shared love of cycling, the court heard.

Mr Wosskow had a heart attack in 2006 and the following year moved to Florida for a more tranquil life. Burdall, who had been a successful businessman himself, was left to oversee his businesses.

But he began transferring vast sums of cash from the company accounts into his own business accounts and later his personal accounts.

Burdall is out on day release from Hatfield Prison, Doncaster, and last month took part in the Yorkshire Half Marathon in Sheffield.

He has been ordered to repay £350,000 of his ill gotten gains under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

In March he was warned he has six months to pay back the cash or he will face more time behind bars. Fellow inmates have claimed he is living a luxury life in jail with a £20 a week job working for the Governor at HMP Hatfield, showing convicted newcomers around the prison.

He is allegedly living in a special unit where cells have flatscreen TVs and fitted carpets. The section also has its own gym where Burdall is likely to have trained for the run.