A ‘SKILLED conman’ who posed as father of the bride at a five-star hotel wedding has been jailed for three years.

Richard William Craig, 42, ran up a bill of £1,770 in two days at the Grand Hotel, York, by pretending to be the bride’s father at a wedding reception, said Michael Bosomworth, prosecuting.

When the real father realised what had happened and told the hotel in Station Rise, York, staff found a “scene of devastation” in the conman’s room.

Craig lied that various people would pay the bill, including his “close friend” the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, said the barrister at York Crown Court.

Arrested and bailed by police in connection with the fraud, Craig then conned Claridge’s Hotel in London out of £4,683 in two days in early January. He has 32 previous convictions for fraud.

“He is a practised and persistent fraudster,” said Mr Bosomworth.

Judge Paul Worsley QC told Craig: “You must have appreciated the huge upset, frustration and distress suffered by the wedding party when they realised they were being confronted with a bill of just short of £2,000.

“The public deserve a break from your activities. You are clearly a skilled conman.”

He jailed him for two years, to be served when Craig finishes the 12-month sentence handed out by Southwark Crown Court in February for the Claridge’s fraud.

Craig, of Brompton Road, London, who attended court via video link from HMP Wandsworth, had pleaded guilty before York magistrates to fraud.

For him Steve Munro said he was a long-term alcoholic and had used his time in prison to tackle his problems.

Mr Bosomworth said the bride’s father had already given the hotel his credit card details as part of the check-in procedure when Craig approached the reception desk last December.

He gave the father’s name and asked for a second room “for his parents” to be charged to the father’s credit card.

“No room was ready, the defendant kicked up quite a fuss,” said Mr Bosomworth.

Craig claimed there was always a room for him when he stayed at five-star London hotels. He was eventually given a room for two days, with an upgrade, and ran up a bill, mostly on alcohol, both on his room's account and on the father’s room account.

When the real father checked out, he was stunned to find an extra £300 on his room’s account and complained. That led to hotel staff discovering the deception and entering Craig’s room.

“A complete mess had been made in the room,” said Mr Bosomworth.

“There were bottles of alcohol all over the place; many of them had been spilt.”

Staff called police and Craig was arrested. The father told officers later the fraud caused him weeks of emails and phone calls and tainted the memory of his daughter’s wedding day.