A NEWLY released convict swapped his prison cell for five-star luxury after carrying out a string of frauds at Edinburgh’s most exclusive hotels.
Richard Craig targeted four city centre hotels, including The Caledonian and The Scotsman, to gorge on £246 worth of food and drink without paying.
The 36-year-old went on the mega one-day blow-out after being released two months early from a jail sentence for an earlier fraud.
With little money and nowhere to stay, his first target was The Caledonian, the five-star landmark in Princes Street. After booking in, he went with a key card to the bar and ordered £65 of food and drink.
It is not known what he ordered at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, which boasts a sumptuous bar – The Caley – selling its own signature malt and sizzling sharing platters.
The fraudster soon fled for his next port of call – The Scotsman hotel on North Bridge – where penthouse suites cost £450 a night.
There he ordered a drink at the bar and, 20 minutes later, some food and more drink. The bill there was £29.
Craig then crossed the road to The Carlton where he spoke to the night manager, telling the staff member that he was a guest and that his parents were coming to stay at 3am the next morning.
He asked for a spare room key and was given one, and the court heard that he ordered food and wine costing £152.
Finally, Craig went to the three-star Old Waverley Hotel on Princes Street. He told an employee he was a guest and needed a room at £140 for his parents, but left before having anything to eat or drink.
At Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday he admitted three fraud charges and one attempted fraud, all committed on Tuesday.
Sheriff John Horsburgh QC sentenced Craig to return to jail to complete the two months from his previous sentence, and imposed a six-month prison term for the latest offences.
Defence solicitor Sarah Quinn told the court that Craig was originally from London, and had come to Edinburgh last year with the intention of setting up his own IT business.
Ms Quinn added that her client suffered financial difficulties, ending up with nowhere to stay and no cash.
The solicitor added that alcohol had become a problem for Craig and he was later jailed on fraud charges. Her client, she added, was deeply ashamed of his behaviour and had asked her to apologise to the hotels.
Sheriff Horsburgh told Craig: “The first thing I am going to do is to return you to prison for the unexpired two months of your previous sentence.
“As far as the four offences you have now pled guilty to, and given the nature of your previous conviction, the sentence will be one of nine months, reduced to six because of your early plea, to run from the expiry of the two months.”
A spokesman for The Carlton confirmed that Craig had been in the hotel and staff had alerted police when the fraud came to light. He added that the food and drink bill was actually less than the amount given in court. A spokeswoman for The Caledonian said they did not wish to comment.
The Old Waverley Hotel and The Scotsman were also unable to comment.