Boyfriend killer, ‘sugar daddy’ teacher and other criminals jailed in February

Among the criminals sentenced in February was a paedophile teacher, a fraudster woman and woman beaters. Drugs were at the heart of the story for a number of horrifying offences.

Such as the shoplifter high on monkey dust who bit shoppers, the former car salesman who stole vehicles to fund his raging addiction and the fence-jumping dealer who tried to out run cops.

But the most shocking case involved ‘high flyer’ Alice Woods who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of fiance Ryan Watson. The 24-year-old, from Cheadle, mowed down Ryan and drove 158 metres with him under the vehicle. Another disturbing case involved a teacher who had sex with a schoolgirl in a hotel.

Here is a list of some of the offenders put behind bars this month.

Mihai Craciun

Mihai Craciun

A sex offender with the user name Mr Christmas asked undercover police officers posing as 13-year-old girls for sex. Mihai Craciun, who has previous convictions for similar matters, contacted two profiles on social media platforms Kik and Snapchat.

Despite being told their age, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[1] heard the 43-year-old made it clear he wanted sex and sent them pictures of his private area. Craciun was jailed for 18 months after a judge described him more as Mr Halloween than Mr Christmas.

Craciun, of Goldenhill Road, Fenton[2], pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted sexual communication with a child; attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act and breaching a SHPO.

To read the full story, click here[3].

Chelsea Beckham

Chelsea Beckham

Fraudster Chelsea Beckham stole a car while the driver was in the petrol station shop paying for fuel. The 27-year-old noticed the keys were still in the ignition, climbed into the driver’s seat and drove off.

The theft happened about a week after she fraudulently obtained £100 from a woman. She advertised an Xbox 1 series for £100 but handed over an older version to the buyer. It was not as valuable but she still took the £100.

Beckham was jailed for 30 weeks at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[4]. But as she had already served half the sentence on remand, she was released.

To read the full story, click here[5].

Alice Wood

Alice Wood

Murderer Alice Wood must serve at least 18 years in prison before she can be considered for parole. The former Painsley Catholic College high-flier was sentenced at Chester Crown Court for the murder of fiancé Ryan Watson.

The 24-year-old, of Draycott Cross Road, in Cheadle[6], mowed down Ryan near their Rode Heath home after earlier that night accusing him of flirting at a birthday bash at the Victoria Lounge, in Hanley[7]. Tragedy struck after the couple had driven home from John Street car park, in Hanley.

The court heard Headway worker Ryan was trapped underneath the car as Wood drove 158 metres up Sandbach Road, in Rode Heath, before stopping.

To read the full story, click here[8].

Richard Griffiths

Richard Griffiths

A child rapist was jailed for more than 15 years after admitting multiple sexual offences. Richard Griffiths, 33, was described as ‘highly dangerous’ after being locked up for sexually abusing a young girl.

Stafford Crown Court[9] heard his perverted offending also involved sex with a ‘living animal’. The allegations against Griffiths were reported to Staffordshire Police[10] in November 2023 with Staffordshire Police launching an investigation.

Griffiths, of Stafford, had earlier pleaded guilty to nine sexual offences at a hearing in December 2023. The defendant was sentenced to 15 years and three months imprisonment. He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life and given an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

To read the full story, click here[11].

Joseph Thaw

Joseph Thaw pictured in 2015.
Joseph Thaw admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm, criminal damage, failing to surrender and breach of a suspended sentence order. He is pictured in 2015.

Angry Joseph Thaw repeatedly punched a woman to her head after she asked him to leave her home. The 36-year-old took offence when the woman told everyone to get out of her house.

He punched her in the head leaving her needing hospital treatment. Her partner also joined in the assault. Thaw was jailed for 18 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[12].

Thaw, of Bouverie Parade, Sneyd Green[13], pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, criminal damage, breaching a suspended sentence order and failing to surrender.

To read the full story, click here[14].

Kieron Stanfield

Kieron Stanfield

Dealer Kieron Stanfield was jailed after he was caught with three class A drugs. The 29-year-old was arrested after police saw what they believed to be a transaction taking place in Tunstall[15].

He was searched in custody and police recovered £270 cash, a phone and a hard white substance. The phone was analysed and contained messages linking Stanfield to the supply of drugs.

Officers later searched his flat and found £295 cash and £640 worth of three class A drugs – heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine. And police discovered a cannabis grow with 79 plants. Stanfield was jailed for 40 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[16].

To read the full story, click here[17].

Simon Murch

Simon Murch

A paedophile ‘sugar daddy’ teacher travelled to Stoke-on-Trent to rape a schoolgirl in a hotel – before spending £500 on her in a toy shop. Simon Murch met his victim online and she told him she was aged 18, when in fact she was aged 12.

The 55-year-old asked her to send pictures of her private area and they arranged to meet at The Tollgate Hotel, Blurton[18]. He picked her up in his car a short distance from her house and the prosecution say he would have known at that stage she was underage.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[19] heard she stayed in the car while he booked the room before they went inside and had full sex. He then took her to Smyths toy shop and spent £500 on her.

But the girl told her teacher she had a sugar daddy and Murch was arrested. Murch was jailed for seven-and-a-half years with an extended licence period of one year.

To read the full story, click here[20].

Sean Stanway

Sean Stanway

A rogue builder who left five customers £57,000 out of pocket was labelled ‘selfish’ by the council which brought him to justice.

Sean Stanway is serving a three-year prison sentence after admitting seven charges of fraud; two charges of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain; making an article for use in fraud; possession of criminal property; and participating in a fraudulent business carried on by a sole trader.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard that the 54-year-old, from Hesketh Avenue, in Ball Green, took money from customers without doing any work – and then pretended he had been struck down with cancer. Stanway – who ran Stanway Building and Maintenance for 19 years – has since been made bankrupt.

To read the full story, click here[21].

Kieran Brookes

A shoplifter who bit everyone who got in his way has been jailed. Kieran Brookes, 23, was twice seen thieving at Sainsbury’s on London Road, Stoke.[22]

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[23] heard on both occasions he then sunk his teeth into seven victims including security guards and police officers as he tried to make off. He also armed himself with a metal pole and threatened to hit a woman during one of the incidents.

The defendant, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault by beating, two counts of actual bodily harm, assaulting an emergency worker, obstructing a police constable, and two counts of common assault. Brookes was sentenced to two years in prison.

To read the full story, click here[24].

Raymond Ashton

A former car salesman stole four vehicles from dealerships by asking to go on test drives to fund his raging cocaine addiction. Raymond Ashton also pretended to be a police officer to burgle a home.

He then used the cash from his crime spree to help fund his £400-a-day habit. Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[25] heard he had previously earned a six-figure salary and was a ‘middle-class family man’ before his addiction spiralled. The 40-year-old was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

To read the full story, click here[26].

Scott Hughes

Scott Hughes

Drug dealer Scott Hughes was hit with a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence. It comes as the 48-year-old admitted his involved with heroin and crack cocaine.

Officers with Staffordshire Police[27] encountered Hughes on a number of occasions spanning back to 2022.

In June that year, officers stopped a Kia Picanto on Great Wyrley’s Glenthorne Drive with Hughes found to be a passenger. He was found with £277 in cash and a mobile phone.

Officers went on to search an address on the street and found scales, methadone and ‘traces’ of cocaine. On June 6 last year the defendant was arrested on the same road for an ‘unrelated matter’.

To read the full story, click here[28].

Luke Walters

‘Shameless coward’ Luke Walters battered his ex-partner in her own home in front of her children. The 29-year-old damaged a vehicle and called her abusive names during an outburst.

And about a month later he returned to her Abbey Hulton[29] home and let himself in through her unlocked kitchen door. He grabbed her by her hair, shoved her to the floor, punched her to her face, head and arm.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[30] heard she escaped with the defendant chasing around the estate. After returning home, she forgot the back door was unlocked and he again entered her home uninvited.

He again subjected her to a brutal attack, by grabbing her hair and bouncing her head off the stairs. It only ended when her eldest son told him to get off. Walters was jailed for 20 months.

To read the full story, click here[31].

Samuel Berrisford

Samuel Berrisford

A speeding drink-driver who fled the scene of a crash which left his passenger seriously injured was jailed. Samuel Berrisford had been drinking and playing pool in Sandbach before he decided to get behind the wheel.

The 22-year-old, of Mayfield Road, Biddulph[32], was driving back to Biddulph in a black Audi A4 when his 37-year-old victim told him he was going too fast. Chester Crown Court[33] heard she described the car as ‘floating and bouncing over speed bumps’ and again told him to slow down.

According to the victim, Berrisford told her ‘we are going to crash, lean back’, before the vehicle smashed into a wall on Child’s Lane, Brownlow, near Congleton.[34]

The court heard Berrisford exited the vehicle and asked the victim if she was OK and tried to move her, but she knew she was injured. A woman who had heard the impact came out of a nearby property, but as she approached the vehicle, Berrisford ran from the scene.

As well as a 36-month prison sentence, Berrisford was handed a four-year driving ban which will start from when he is released from jail.

To read the full story, click here.[35]

Kwame Giwa

Kwame Giwa

Drug-dealer Kwame Giwa jumped over garden fences – in an effort to outrun cops. The incident unfolded in Stafford[36] after the force had stopped an Audi Q2 which the 34-year-old was travelling in.

The car was later stopped for a second time in Longton[37] where officers found crack cocaine, heroin and hundreds of pounds in cash.

The defendant’s offending was rumbled after officers stopped the Audi on Stafford’s Laurel Grove on October 29.

The 34-year-old defendant, from Birmingham, pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine and heroin with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of cocaine. During a hearing at Stafford Crown Court[38] he was jailed for 39 months.

To read the full story, click here[39].

Cornellius Bezuidenhout

Cornellius Bezuidenhout

A homeless man was jailed after he was caught with a knife in Hanley city centre. Cornellius Bezuidenhout was spotted by police and taken into custody for being in breach of bail.

But when the 32-year-old’s bags were searched officers found an adapted kitchen knife. He said he would only use the weapon ‘if absolutely necessary’.

Bezuidenhout was sentenced to five months in prison at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[40].

To read the full story, click here[41].

James Horn

Jealous James Horn sneaked into his ex-girlfriend’s home and performed a sex act on her bed during a ‘terrifying’ campaign of abuse. The 35-year-old also attacked his former partner on three occasions following the breakdown of their seven-month relationship.

His assaults included intentionally strangling his victim, repeatedly punching her in the head and pulling her hair, as well as destroying her property. At one point he threated to kill her with a knife and pour petrol through her letterbox.

Horn – who was high on monkey dust at the time – was jailed at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[42] for 40 months.

To read the full story, click here[43].

Tyrell Karchut

Tyrell Karchut

A bungling drug dealer seen trying to smash down a door was caught by police after stumbling as he fled the scene. Tyrell Karchut, aged 25, was one of three men who tried to smash their way into a Longton[44] address.

They died a runner when police arrived but Karchut fell and was arrested. He had heroin and cocaine on his person and more Class A drugs were found at his home. In total, police recovered drugs worth £2,920.

Karchut, of Bambury Street, Adderley Green[45], pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing a class A drug with intent to supply and possession of an offensive weapon. His plea was on a basis he was approached on his release from prison and on one occasion he agreed. His role was to divide the class A drugs into deals and pass them back to those higher up the chain.

Karchut was jailed for 34 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[46].

To read the full story, click here[47].

Harpreet Randhawa

Harpreet Randhawa

Drunken Harpreet Randhawa attacked three close relatives and caused thousands of pounds of damage at the family home. The 29-year-old shoved his sister, spat at his mum and was abusive to his dad during the terrifying episode.

He was bailed with conditions to stay away from the address. But Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[48] heard he then returned months later and caused £2,500 gratuitous damage.

He also assaulted police officers who arrested him on both occasions. Randhawa was jailed for 26 months.

To read the full story, click here[49].

Matthew Charlesworth

Matthew Charlesworth

A ‘predatory paedophile’ who raped a vulnerable woman in Stoke-on-Trent was jailed for five years. Matthew Charlesworth was considered so dangerous that he was also handed a seven-year extended licence.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court[50] heard Charlesworth raped the woman at a property in the city in August 2023. The victim reported the sex attack to Staffordshire Police and Charlesworth was arrested and charged him the next day.

Charlesworth, of Shelton,[51] went on to plead guilty to rape. The judge said that Charlesworth’s history made him a dangerous offender and that was taken into consideration when sentencing him.

To read the full story, click here[52]

Adam Johnston

A builder ‘earning a good wage’ was jailed after he was caught flouting a driving ban. North Staffordshire Justice Centre[53] heard Adam Johnston was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, on August 25 last year for driving while disqualified and driving without insurance.

But on September 30 the 27-year-old was seen driving a Vauxhall Insignia towards Cobridge[54]. Police spoke to him in Greyhound Way, Festival Park[55]. He initially gave officers a different name but he was quickly identified as Adam Johnston due to personal documents in his possession and the Police National Computer (PNC).

Magistrates activated the suspended sentence and jailed Johnston for a further eight weeks for this offence meaning a total term of 16 weeks. He was banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay £135 costs and a £154 surcharge.

To read the full story, click here[56].

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