Conman jailed pretending to be Hamilton’s boss | DN&C 26/02/16

Conman who pretended to be Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes boss jailed

An unemployed conman who posed as the Mercedes Formula 1 team’s chief operations officer to dupe hotel staff and trick other victims into attending “business” meetings in Germany has been jailed for two years.

Stuart Howatson even donned liveried clothing to adopt a glamorous and powerful false persona pretending to be World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s boss, and he ordered computer security systems worth up to 1.1 million US dollars – about £750,000.

He also enjoyed lavish hotel stays without paying in Bewdley and Kidderminster.

Coventry Crown Court heard that the 37-year-old committed 12 counts of fraud and a theft during 2014, netting him several free stays at hotels in north Worcestershire as well as £1,500 from a hotel guest who fell for a bogus job offer.


Opening the facts of Howatson’s offending, prosecutor Sharon Bahia said: “The frauds relate to separate offences all stemming from one central falsehood – that being that the defendant was the chief operations officer of the Mercedes F1 racing team.”

False email accounts purporting to belong to his assistants at Northamptonshire-based Mercedes were set up to book hotel rooms in Bewdley and Kidderminster, Ms Bahia added.

Among four individuals who fell victim to the frauds was an engineer who flew to Cologne with his wife to meet Howatson, who had promised him a job with Mercedes and a company car.

Ms Bahia said of the victim: “He describes the defendant as being very knowledgeable about the workings of Mercedes-Benz.

“This defendant suggested to him that he should come to work for Mercedes-Benz as an operations director. He was offered Bupa health care and Rosetta Stone software in order to learn German.

“He states his disbelief at the lengths the defendant went to in order to con him into believing that he had genuinely been offered a lucrative position.”

Howatson’s lawyer, Nick Devine, told the court the frauds committed against software companies – relating to contracts worth 1.1 million US dollars, £224,000 and 23,904 euros – would not have benefited his client financially.

Mr Devine told Recorder Derek Sweeting QC: “Mr Howatson suffers from a variety of personality disorders that have manifested themselves quite clearly in his behaviour throughout this series of offences.

“The plain fact of the matter was that he was enjoying the fact that he was dealing with these big figures, and the fact he was pretending to be someone with the kind of authority to enter into such contracts.

“It was all about what he got out of the pretence of being somebody in a considerable position of authority in a glamorous line of business.”

Passing sentence, Recorder Sweeting told Howatson – who was jailed in 2010 after inventing an illustrious police career – that his jail term had been reduced by a third because of his guilty pleas.

“You carried off the deception with a great deal of persuasive skill,” he told Howatson, of Fisher Road, Bishops Itchington, Warwickshire.

“The victims have commented on the lengths you went to.

“The real purpose of the fraud was to make you feel better and more powerful, and to carry through the persona of being chief operations officer for the Mercedes-Benz racing team.”


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14 responses to “Conman jailed pretending to be Hamilton’s boss | DN&C 26/02/16

  1. Just curious, why do you say someone pretending to be the Mercedes F1’s COO is pretending to be “Hamilton’s boss?” None of the people quoted even mentioned Hamilton. Wouldn’t this guy be masquerading as Nico Rosberg’s boss, too? Mechanics as well? How far does the COO’s authority reach – does that mean he was pretending to be Paddy Lowe’s boss?

      • How about you use the headline, “Conman Pretending to Be Mercedes COO Jailed.” It’s rather simple. You can link to an article all you want but you don’t have to mimic bad journalism.

    • Exactly right, Dwil! +1

      It should’ve been abundantly clear that this man was a fraudster if he presented himself as Lewis’ boss given that Lewis doesn’t have a boss and is, more or less, uncontrollable. *echo* controllable… trollable… ollable… lable… able… llllee…

      *Brief silence*

      I’m sorry… I couldn’t help myself, mate. 😀

    • So, I had two initial thoughts as I read the tantalising headline:

      1. I was hoping that the authorities had finally caught up with Paddy and sent him down for a poor Ross Brawn impersonation, or…

      2. Maybe the Hamfosi had made a citizens arrest because NO-ONE is Hamilton’s boss. Everyone knows Lewis is a free-wheelin’ dude who answers to no man 😉

      Anyways, I’m disappointed to find out that the guy in jail is just some random loon with esteem issues. Doh!

    • I agree. An engineer who doesn’t check the most basic of facts is an engineer I don’t want on my staff.

  2. Well I guess the only way for the story to make the front page, was to just add “Lewis Hamilton” to the title and voila… Headline grabbing…..

    Just shows the power of the man, that even when an incident has absolutely nothing to do with him, just mentioning his name draws eyeballs to said site or tabloid press.


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