Karl Francis, 59, of Prestbury Green, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to six charges of falsely charging VAT, while running KSS Security. The offences took place between May 2011 and October 2014. In total Shrewsbury Crown Court was told that Francis had charged Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury School and The Forestry Commission around 59,700 of VAT, which was not paid to HM Revenue and Customs.
Francis company provided security staff who were responsible for locking up buildings and patrolling. Philip Beardwell, prosecuting, said the matters had come to light after one of Francis employees was found to be working without the right authority. He said: When working at Shrewsbury school the man was approached and they found he was not authorised to have the appropriate licence to be working on site that day and he received a formal police caution for that,
Francis company was responsible for a number of sites including Raven Meadows Car Park, Shrewsbury s park & ride facilities, Shrewsbury Bus Station, and event and evening security at Shrewsbury School.
The court heard that he had been registered for VAT but had de-registered in April 2011. Mr Beardwell said that Francis had continued to invoice the organisations for work, including VAT, but had not paid the appropriate amount to HM Revenue and Customs. The court was told that in a police interview Francis had said that another man had been responsible for the accounts.
However, Mr Beardwell said: Attempts were made to trace him but he was never found. Anthony Scott, mitigating, told Judge Peter Barrie that Francis suffers from respiratory problems and mental health issues. Sentencing Judge Barrie said: I have to deal with you for six counts in relation to three clients from whom your business quite deliberately charged VAT when the business was not registered for VAT so the money collected, which should have been seen as tax, was not accounted for by the revenue and was kept by your business.
Having previously been registered for VAT you must obviously have understood how wrong it was to conduct the business in this way.
The total amount is not far short of 60,000 which is a significant loss to the revenue, accrued over a significant period of time.
However, Judge Barrie said that despite the seriousness of the crime he was not going to send Francis to jail because of his health. He said: Because of ill health it would be disproportionate to impose a sentence of immediate custody. Francis was sentenced to 21 months in prison, suspended for two years.
FriendsFest 2017 has kicked off at Hylands Park and for the first time it includes original props used on the actual TV show.
Friday saw the start of the 10-day event in Chelmsford1 which is made up of set replicas, themed cafes and the chance to recreate that famous title sequence. As a new addition for this year, the festival included real costumes and props worn and used by the cast.
These included Joey’s Dr Drake Ramoray uniform, Rachel’s outfit from the final episode and Ross’ holiday armadillo costume.
Props on show included Joey’s white ceramic dog (called Pat), Monica and Ross’ Troll trophy and Ross’ Science Boy comic. The props are worth so much money that they are watched over by a security guard 24-hours-a-day while they’re at Hylands Park.
For example, Pat the dog is worth $10,000 ( 7,700), Phoebe’s guitar is valued at $15,000 ( 11,560) and a box of Smelly Cat litter is worth $8,000 ( 6,175). A member of staff at FriendsFest said they “dreaded to think” how much the entire props collection was worth, but they estimated it was more than $100,000 ( 77,000). READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the Street, Eats n Beats food festival in Chelmsford2
The Comedy Central UK FriendsFest Chelmsford sold out several weeks before the launch on Friday (September 1) and is designed to give Friends fans an interactive peek inside the world of the famous comedy series. The festival is brought to life by the Luna Cinema company and Comedy Central UK which broadcasts the show every day.
“The best thing about FriendsFest is seeing people’s reactions when they first see the sets and props,” said Quintin Young from the Luna Cinema company. “When they first set eyes on Joey and Chandler’s apartment you can actually hear the gasps and people saying ‘wow.’ FriendsFest is unique because it allows people to the sets and touch things. “If you are a big Friends fan, these are memories that will last a lifetime.” READ MORE: An extra date has been added to the Essex Prosecco Festival3
FriendsFest takes place at six venues around the UK, with Chelmsford being the penultimate venue, before the tour ends in London . And there are certainly some hardcore fans at the events .
So far on the tour, there have been seven marriage proposals (at the exact spot where Chandler proposed) and there have been visits from lots of tiny babies including four-day old tot Phoebe who was named after their mum’s favourite character. The main activities at FriendsFest are:
- Visiting exact replicas of Monica and Chandler’s apartment
- Posing in the corridor between the two apartments
- Recreating the titles sequence with replica sofas and umbrellas
- Having a coffee in a Central Perk replica
- Singing Smelly Cat
- Seeing original props and costumes worn by the cast
- Fancy dress photo opportunities at the Las Vegas wedding chapel and Monica and Ross’ high school prom
- Trying Friends-themed food and drinks
- Taking part in Friends’ quizzes and challenges
- Posing in Phoebe’s New York cab
As FriendsFest is only at a few venues around the UK, fans travel from far and wide to attend . At Chelmsford, there are visitors from Essex, Kent, Surrey, Sussex and even parts of Europe. Essex Live spoke to some hardcore fans who were at the first day of the event at Hylands Park.
“I’ve been a Friends fan forever,” said Leah from Dartford in Kent. “I came to FriendsFest last year too but this year is better . I loved seeing the memorabilia and the props, especially Rachel’s final outfit and Pat the dog . Rachel is my favourite character, I can relate to her.”
Friends Claire, Natalie and Carrie from Romford visited the event together. “We’ve just had a moist maker sandwich which was great,” said Carrie. “We’ve also sat on the sofa and recreated the titles which was fun . It’s actually a bit smaller than we thought it would be but it is good.” The friends disagree on the best Friends’ character Claire’s is Ross, Natalie’s is Chandler and Carrie’s is Phoebe. Colleagues Ana, Kendall, Alice and Mary all work together in Bishops Stortford. “I’ve wanted to come here for the last few years,” said Mary. “For us, we’ve grown up watching Friends . I remember laughing at it as a kid and then when you get older different things become funny . It’s nice coming here with a group, we’re all friends at FriendsFest.”
Laura, 31, from Stanford le Hope, said she was “the biggest” Friends fan . She even had a Friends themed 30th birthday with a Friends cake and invites. “I’ve watched Friends for years but even now I still watch it nearly every day,” she said. “It’s just such easy watching, it’s so funny and you can relate to the characters .
We all know people like that. “The writing is just impeccable and it’s still so relevant . I love FriendsFest so far, I’d recommend it to any fan of the show.”
FriendsFest is at Hylands Park in Chelmsford until September 10 . Unfortunately all 2017 dates are sold out but there are plans for FriendsFest to come back next year.
- ^ Chelmsford (www.essexlive.news)
- ^ Everything you need to know about the Street, Eats n Beats food festival in Chelmsford (www.essexlive.news)
- ^ An extra date has been added to the Essex Prosecco Festival (www.essexlive.news)
- ^ A gingerbread house Santa’s grotto is coming to Bond Streeet, Chelmsford this Christmas (www.essexlive.news)
- ^ FriendsFest website (friendsfest.co.uk)
An MTV Crashes Plymouth star had to warn the crowd to go “easy” after a thrown smoke bomb came within inches of hitting him mid-set. DJ Wilkinson managed to dodge the burning purple smoke bomb but was taken by surprise. The incident happened as he performed his remix of Rag’n’Bone Man hit Skin.
He immediately told the crowd to the left of the stage to go “easy”.
The flare was being waved around in the air by someone in the crowd before it was suddenly launched towards the stage. Two members of the backstage team immediately rushed onto the stage to put it out.
Watch below: The moment a flare is lit up earlier in the night
One shocked audience member said it appeared the flare was aimed at the stage. “The flare had been in the crowd for a minute or two but I didn’t think it was going to get thrown.
“I thought, ‘that’s really dangerous’ . Why would someone throw a flare on stage? “It was about the third flare I saw this evening.
“It smelt really bad as well and the wind was blowing it right across the stage.” Earlier, police said a man was arrested after a flare was set off – as they declared a “zero tolerance” approach to crime at the massive event.
The wet and windy weather is failing to put a dampener on festivities on the Hoe, as thousands of people enjoy the party for the second night in a row. But cops say anyone who oversteps the mark will be dealt with. And that began early, with an arrest before 6pm.
Video footage (above) shows a red smoke bomb being set off in the crowd. DCI Ben Deer, who is Plymouth police’s bronze commander for the event, tweeted: “Male arrested for possession of pyrotechnic (flare) at a musical event having thrown it in the crowd zero tolerance.”
The first night of the huge event was trouble-free.
DCI Deer said there were no arrests last night.