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Jury kept in dark over Romford dentist being wanted man in South Africa

PUBLISHED: 07:01 15 March 2016

Wanted: Former dentist Edmond Fenton at his Cape Town home

Wanted: Former dentist Edmond Fenton at his Cape Town home

Picture supplied by Willemijntje Fenton-Bijleveld

A businessman, who is wanted on 348 criminal charges in South Africa, is today exposed by the Recorder.

Camera shy: Edmond Fenton leaving Blackfriars Crown Court at his trial last month Camera shy: Edmond Fenton leaving Blackfriars Crown Court at his trial last month

Media entrepreneur Edmond Fenton, who lived in Romford, fled South Africa nearly a decade ago just as he was to stand trial accused of 348 counts of alleged tax fraud in Cape Town.

The former dentist took flight to France in 2007 but more recently has lived in the house of his elderly cousin in Priory Grove, Romford.

A warrant for Mr Fenton’s arrest remains active in South Africa and should he ever set foot there again he is likely to be arrested immediately.

He even has a four-month prison term hanging over him, handed out by the High Court of South Africa for contempt.

Edmond Fenton as he looks today Edmond Fenton as he looks today

The judge in that case accused Mr Fenton of having “an apparent obsessive unwillingness to accept the outcome of the decisions of the courts” and said he was “seemingly a fugitive of justice of this country”.

This information can be published for the first time today by the Recorder, a month after the conclusion of a trial at Blackfriars Crown Court.

In that trial Mr Fenton, 71, was accused of defrauding his elderly cousin, Marie Ell, of £400,000 while she was living in Romford Care Centre, a nursing home in Harold Hill.

He was cleared by a jury of all charges after his defence showed Mr Fenton’s cousin had given him power of attorney.

Not guilty: Edmond Fenton was cleared of defrauding his elderly cousin Marie Ell of £400,000 Not guilty: Edmond Fenton was cleared of defrauding his elderly cousin Marie Ell of £400,000

The jury in that case was not told of the outstanding criminal charges in South Africa, which can be revealed following a Recorder investigation.

The National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa has confirmed a warrant for Mr Fenton’s arrest is still active.

“He is consequently a fugitive from justice,” David Damerell, director of public prosecutions for the Western Cape, said.

Mr Fenton was a well-known socialite and hotel owner before he fled Cape Town. Since his return to the UK he continues to do business, perfectly legally, in this country.

Our reporter tracked down Mr Fenton, who also ran a failed UK TV production company promoted by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and confronted him about the outstanding warrant for his arrest.

“I don’t think I can make any comment,” he told the Recorder.

JURY KEPT IN THE DARK

The Recorder was first made aware of Edmond Fenton’s long history of legal disputes in South Africa in July last year, but has been unable to publish before now because of court proceedings in the UK.

These related to allegations that Mr Fenton, 71, “pillaged” more than £400,000 from the bank accounts of his 100-year-old cousin, Marie Ell, and sold her house, transferring the proceeds to himself.

The prosecution had alleged the 100-year-old pensioner, who was living in an old people’s home at the time and has since died, was “confused”.

But Mr Fenton denied the allegations and said he had transferred the money and sold her house in Priory Grove, Romford, after Miss Ell’s distinct requests.

He told Blackfriars Crown Court that he cared deeply for “feisty” Miss Ell and was acting on her instructions and in her interests.

He was cleared by a jury last month and found innocent of all charges.

His defence showed he had power of attorney and his cousin had drafted a will leaving all her assets to him.

The jury was not told of the outstanding criminal charges against Mr Fenton in South Africa.

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