Thursday, November 11, 1999

Police swoop after Mirror exposes Paddington scam

A MAN dubbed Britain's sickest conman was arrested yesterday after a Mirror investigation.

Stuart Ashley, 24, posed as a Paddington rail disaster victim and stood to gain thousands in compensation from Great Western and Thames Trains.

He was exposed by The Mirror last week and admitted his actions were "sick".

Ashley told how he watched TV coverage of the October 5 disaster and registered as a victim by phone.

He gave his real name to Great Western but supplied a false address, claiming he lived in a cottage in the Scottish Highlands.

The truth was he lived in a small flat in Morden, south London, and had rented the cottage while on honeymoon last year. Ashley said he wanted to apologise to Mirror readers and to the real victims' families.

He even offered to turn himself over to the police but later changed his mind.

British Transport Police investigating the Paddington crash arrested him yesterday in Morden on suspicion of attempted deception.

Ashley was taken to Kingston police station in south west London.

He was released on police bail and ordered to attend at a later date.

The Paddington crash claimed 31 lives when a Thames train passed a red light and collided head-on with a packed Great Western train.

It later emerged that Thames driver Michael Hodder, 31, had only recently qualified and had driven the route fewer than 15 times.

Online Mirror