South Africa: After 21 Years On the Run, UK Fugitive Finally Nabbed in Tshwane

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After 21 years on the run, a UK fugitive, who was once threatened with legal action for using a photo of former soccer star Eric Cantona on wines and brandy without his consent, has been caught - in Tshwane.

Brandon William Pyatt, 64, was apprehended in Hatfield last week when police acted on information that a wanted man was in the area, national SA Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo told News24.

He was arrested on an Interpol "red notice", which shows that a person is wanted on the basis of an arrest warrant or equivalent judicial decision.

While in custody, KwaZulu-Natal police confirmed that Pyatt was wanted for a car theft case, reported in Umbilo in 2014, provincial SAPS spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said.

The vehicle was recently found in Grahamstown.

Pyatt appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Thursday and the case was postponed to April 17 for a bail application.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) in the UK confirmed in a statement that Pyatt had been convicted of a series of fraud and deception offences in Chester Crown Court in 1998 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

"However Pyatt, who is originally from Droylsden in Manchester, skipped bail during his trial and fled the UK, sparking a manhunt that lasted more than two decades."

His initial conviction related to a series of frauds committed by a vehicle-leasing firm operated by Pyatt in the north west of England in the mid-1990s, which led to his victims suffering significant financial loss. Some lost their businesses and livelihoods as a result, the NCA said.

"Pyatt is believed to have gone abroad immediately after he failed to return to court, and continued to evade the authorities using a series of false identities. As well as being wanted by the NCA for the original offences, he is also wanted by South Yorkshire police, and for fraud and theft offences allegedly committed during his time in South Africa."

According to the NCA, the South African charges would first be dealt with before any extradition proceedings can commence.

NCA international operations head Ian Cruxton said Pyatt had used a string of aliases and assumed identities to evade them.

Source: News24

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