Son of former Black Rod sentenced to 3½ years

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AN ADMIRAL’S son who betrayed his privileged background to embark on a life of crime was jailed for three and a half years yesterday for a £1.2 million investment scam.

Roddam Twiss, 64, whose father, Sir Frank Twiss, was also a former House of Lords Black Rod, dazzled victims with "big talk and small print", name dropping and unrealistic schemes to help the Third World. But the former teacher - first imprisoned nearly 40 years ago for indecently assaulting, stripping and beating young boys - was little more than a conman indulging in "pure flannel".

Southwark Crown Court in London heard he was so successful in concealing the truth, that those he swindled never suspected the bearded businessman had bought his luxury car with their money, or that he ran his so-called "high-yield investment" empire from a squalid former council maisonette. Their cash also paid off his mortgage and funded an array of far from successful business interests.

The public school-educated Twiss, from Bethnal Green, London, tried to put all the blame on a former business partner. But earlier this year a jury unanimously convicted him of conspiracy to steal in 1997 and 1998.

Appearing for sentence yesterday, Twiss was told by the judge, James Wadsworth, QC, that he had dealt in "wholly unrealistic" promises of large profits.

Those who lost their cash may well have been "governed by an avid chase after money that was almost bound to lead to trouble". While Twiss may also initially have believed he was about to "find that Holy Grail of incredible returns", he did not hesitate to turn to dishonesty when he realised the whole project was doomed to failure, the judge said. It was plain he felt "no remorse whatsoever" for what he did.

The judge, who disqualified Twiss from being a company director for seven years, said he would have to serve a further 18 months if a "realisable assets" confiscation order of just over 89,000 was not paid by the beginning of 2006.