The Bonnie and Clyde of the print industry and the strange story of how the police lost computer evidence that could have jailed a couple of fraudsters

The duo at the time when portraryed as the Bonnie and Clyde of the print industry

The Bonnie and Clyde of the print industry and the strange story of how the police lost computer evidence that could have jailed a couple of fraudsters

The printing industry was rocked in recent years by a couple of fraudsters known as Bonnie and Clyde who took printers for tens of thousands of pounds and the public for even more. The nickname for Neill Malcolm Stuart John and his accomplice Clair Hunnisett of Barry in South Wales was coined by one of their victims – and it stuck.

This month ICSM has seen an email sent by the South Wales police last year to author and victim Trevor Montague which reveals an unfortunate incident that ruined the chances of bringing to book Neill Malcolm Stuart John and his accomplice Clair Hunnisett some years earlier.

It was a huge pity as at the time John was under investigation from a number of groups including ICSM and if the evidence on the seized computer had born fruit he may not have been banned as a director but banged up as well. And there was another unfortunate aspect of Trevor Montague’s relationship with the case of John – he ended up in court accused of attempting to blackmail John. The case hinged on an email he sent to John after he had been ripped off by the print farmer – an email that was considered by the police to have implied violence. Montague was eventually exonerated by the legal system but typically John seemed to get off.

Author and victim Trevor Montague

The email sent to Montague from Dc Emma Sweeney of Team 1 Cardiff and the Vale reads: “During my lengthy investigation, I conducted a warrant at Mr John’s house and seized all his computer equipment. This was then sent to be examined by our Digital forensic unit. Unfortunately, whilst it was there the premises suffered a flood and all Mr John’s equipment was damaged. As a result, it was not able to be examined. Without this evidence, the matter cannot be progressed to a satisfactory conclusion and will not satisfy disclosure requirements if the case was taken to court.”

The con was to offer the public very low prices for printing books and magazines on an internet site. They always asked for money up front – they often did process the printing through many printing companies across the UK and Europe – but never paid the printers in full. If the punters did receive their order is would be short or wrong but no money was refunded. An estimate made at the height of their operation suggested they were earning around half a million a year with virtually no overheads.

The trade press less the campaign to stop their activities

ICSM helped organise a petition, an open letter and a campaign to stop the couple continuing to trade under several names. Eventually John and Hunnisett were banned from being directors and their firms shut down by the Insolvency Service in the high court in Manchester in 2019 thanks to the work of ICSM, a victims’ group and the trade press. Even the BBC and the national press covered the story at the time – after ICSM’s numerous tip-offs.

If anyone in the industry hears that John is back and up to his old tricks do let ICSM know so we can warn everyone. He and Hunnisett split up and went their separate ways after the court hearing.

It’s a story not just about crime but of how trusting the public are with internet sites and have a willingness to pay up front when years ago you only paid when you got the goods. It is also a story of how printers continue to trust customers and assume they will pay when they send an invoice – and accept the work without checking their credit. Any printer who had contacted ICSM when receiving an order from John and Hunnisett would immediately have had a warning they were not to be trusted. So, a lesson learned for the hundreds if not thousands ripped off by the couple – who still have their freedom and looking at their separate social media accounts enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle – at everyone else’s expense.


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