Tommy Wathen &Lottie O'Neill: A former Billericay Town cheerleader and model is being sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court today (Thursday, December 14) after she admitted benefiting from her ex-boyfriend's conspiracy to defraud a large number of elderly people.
Back in September, Rebecca Batchelor, 21 of Helena Road, Rayleigh, who is known as Bekka locally, admitted in court that she knew the huge sums of cash transferred into her bank account were as part of her former lover, Anis Ben-Sghaier's, dodgy dealings, and were the proceeds of crime.
Batchelor rose to fame as she was one of a number of cheerleaders at Billericay Town who were sacked for being too distracting to players. She first came before Chelmsford Crown Court for the start of the case against her on Monday (September 11).
While she initially denied the charge of coverting criminal property, she changed her plea to guilty on Wednesday, September 13.
She was initially tried alongside Anis Ben-Sghaier's younger brother, Bilal, of Collins Meadow, Harlow, and Cathereen Welch, of Lamplighters Close, Waltham Abbey , who is also the former lover of Ben-Sghaier.
Bilal Ben-Sghaier, 23, and Welch, 23 both denied converting criminal property, which they allegedly committed between January 2013 and September 2016.
Opening the prosecution case in September, prosecutor Sarah Przybylska explained to the jury of twelve how the defendants were supposedly connected to the widespread scam.
She outlined how brothers Anis and Amin Ben-Sghaier, who have already pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud a number of people, would cold call elderly people and offer to make them lot of money.
Their victims would be fooled into believing that by making a payment of cash upfront, which they were told constituted taxes, auctioneer fees and down-payments, they would be able to make a hefty profit.
Ms Przybylska said:
"It was all a lie. The money they paid would not go to auctioneer houses or to the tax man. It would go to Anis, Amin, and their associates. These defendants were among those people."
Expanding on the prosecution case, Ms Przybylska explained how the defendants had money paid into their accounts by some of the victims and went on to spend it.
"Each of them knew, or suspected, that the money were the proceeds of crime,"
The prosecution say that they did know – they of course say that they didn't.
The jury were read a WhatsApp conversation between Anis and Batchelor where they discussed drafting a letter which would be used to con 87-year-old Dorothy Hepper out of £780. The letter, which is said to have been drafted by Batchelor and sent by Anis, claimed Ms Hepper would have her deposit repaid on completion of the sale of her carbon credits.
As part of the scam, Batchelor had money transferred into her account, with one example being the £2,535 she received from a Mr Singh, which she then spent on a shopping spree including a £517 lunch at a restaurant in London.
Batchelor, along with Anis, Amin and Bilal Ben-Sghaier, were arrested on January 19 last year.
During her interview with police, Batchelor, who started dating Anis in January 2015, claimed she grew suspicious of his dealings and that he later admitted he was defrauding people out of their money.
She also told officers that she had allowed her ex to use her bank account to receive payments as she believed he did not have one of his own.
Article by Tommy Wathen & Lottie O'Neill, EssexLive