Man accused of forging character reference from former chief constable appears before Fenland magistrates

A MAN accused of forging a character reference from former chief constable Julie Spence appeared today before Fenland magistrates.

John Whitcombe, 75, of Lyons Court, Chatteris, faces eight dishonesty charges relating to the alleged running of a bogus NSPCC charity shop in March.

He faces seven sex charges, in a separate case, for which he appeared at Cambridge Crown Court on October 22.

At a hearing before Fenland magistrates on Tuesday, Whitcombe was accused of falsely claiming that he would run a charity shop for the benefit of the NSPCC, with the intention of getting Susan Edgoose to lease a shop premises to him.

It is further alleged that he fraudulently claimed to be a Court Sheriff, and that he owned premises called Saddleback Barn, both committed to cause Susan Edgoose to lease him premises.

All three fraud charges are alleged to have been committed between September 1 and October 31 2008.

An allegation of forgery facing Whitcombe alleges that he made a false instrument, namely a letter, appearing to be a character reference from the chief constable of Cambridgeshire, with the intention of inducing others to accept it was genuine.

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Whitcombe also faces four charges of attempted fraud. The first alleges that between March 15 and 17 2009 he made an application for council tax benefit and housing benefit, falsely claiming to work as a volunteer at an NSPCC charity shop.

The second charge alleges that Whitcombe dishonestly told Carole Cracknell of Fenland District Council that he operated an NSPCC charity, with the intention of being given a discount on business rates.

The third allegation states that between 13 June and 1 September 2009 he told trading standards that he was concerned in the running of a shop that benefited the NSPCC and was in the process of registering with the NSPCC, which was untrue, with the intention of causing trading standards officers to deal with him differently over various complaints.

The fourth charge alleges that between December 1 and 31 2009, he put forward a letter that appeared to be a character reference from the chief constable to secure an advantage for himself.

Whitcombe did not enter pleas and the magistrates declined jurisdiction over the case. He was given unconditional bail until December 14 for a committal hearing.

The sex charges faced by Whitcombe include two charges of rape, both of which are alleged to have been committed on a boy aged between 13 and 15 in Gedney between December 1 2008 and July 2009.

He is also accused of sexually assaulting a male over the age of 16 in March between March 1 and July 31 last year.

He also faces three other charges relating to sexual activity with boys along with an allegation of possessing child pornography. He will appear at Cambridge Crown Court in relation to these matters in May next year.

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