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Widow who laundered hundreds of thousands spared jail

Susan Benstead with husband Peter Benstead, also a defendant in the case. He has since died. Credit: ITV News

A widow from Cornwall who laundered hundreds of thousands of pounds from a £20 million currency fraud that was masterminded by her husband has been spared jail by a judge.

Susan Benstead's husband Peter killed himself last month, just days before the jury delivered their verdicts. This afternoon she was given a suspended sentence for her part in the fraud, which left 12,500 people out of pocket.

Investigation into Penzance pirate world record attempt

The town spent more than £50,000 on the event. Credit: ITV News

An inquiry is underway into how Penzance Town Council spent more than double its budget for a failed fancy dress world record.

The cost of the pirate event in May last year was set at £20,000, but the final bill came to more than £50,000. The town's mayor has promised a "full and public investigation".

The event was 77 pirates short of a record.

The event was 77 pirates short of the record. Credit: ITV News

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Sentences due in £20 million Crown Currency fraud case

Susan Benstead with husband Peter Benstead, also a defendant in the case. He has since died. Credit: ITV News

A widow and her son from Cornwall are due to be sentenced for their part in a £20 million fraud.

Susan Benstead and her husband Peter were found guilty of a foreign exchange scam following a three-month trial. But Peter Benstead killed himself near his home in Penzance while the jury was considering verdicts. Four other men, including their son, face sentencing in connection with the case at Southwark Crown Court

The defendants were found to have traded under illegitimate companies and used the money to fund lavish lifestyles.

Susan Benstead, 70, has been found guilty of money laundering. Her son Julian Benstead and son-in-law Roderick Schmidt, both 46, were convicted of fraudulent trading, while Schmidt was also found guilty of theft. Stephen Matthews, 52, was convicted of false accounting, and 75-year-old Edward James, a former mayor of Glastonbury, was found guilty of fraudulent trading.

Edward James, 75, a former mayor of Glastonbury Credit: ITV News

The police investigation lasted over two and a half years - and over 12,000 victims were found to have lost money.

This is the largest fraud investigation ever undertaken by the Devon & Cornwall police force.

Julian Benstead, 46 and Roderick Schmidt, 46 Credit: ITV News

Party leaders in last-ditch bid for West Country votes

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg started a country tour at Land's End today. Credit: PA Wire

With just two more days of campaigning to go, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are back in the West Country again.

Both are in Cornwall today, which is regarded as a key Lib Dem and Tory battleground. Both parties currently have three seats each in the county.

Nick Clegg has been in Penzance this morning, as part of a Land's End to John O' Groats trek across the country, arguing that his party is the only way to avoid left and right-wing extremes. We asked him for his message to West Country voters.

Cameron talks jobs, schools and Cornwall stadium

The Prime Minister talks to supporters at a scaffolding yard in Penzance today. Credit: ITV News West Country

The Prime Minister has made an economic pledge to Cornwall today - setting out plans to create 15,000 new jobs, 5,000 new primary school places, and more money for the local NHS and roads.

He also said he would make a sports stadium for Cornwall a priority. The Cornish Pirates rugby club, which supports the Stadium 4 Cornwall campaign and would want to move to a future stadium, reacted positively to the promise.

We welcome the Prime Minister’s comments and now look to local politicians to deliver what the people of Cornwall want and need ... We remain 100% committed to working with the other Stadium Partners on taking our scheme for S4C back to Cornwall’s planning committee in June.

– Ian Connell, Chairman of the Board, Cornish Pirates

Three people arrested in connection with Penzance murder

The victim arrived at West Cornwall Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning Credit: ITV News

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of murder following the death of a 32-year-old man in Penzance last week.

The man, thought to be Lithuanian, was brought into West Cornwall Hospital around 4.15am last Tuesday. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Detectives are continuing their enquiries to establish the circumstances of the man's death and are awaiting post mortem results. Officers are conducting enquiries within the Penzance area and are appealing for anyone who many have information to contact police.

The two men and women, (aged 39, 44, and 29) who were arrested, have now been released on bail.

"We would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident of the events beforehand to contact police.

"While clearly concerning, we would like to reassure the community that this appears to be an isolated incident."

– Devon & Cornwall Police

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Stricken paddle boarder meets his rescuers

A paddle boarder who was rescued by the RNLI after drifting for six hours in freezing seas has been meeting his rescuers.

Musician Joe Holtaway from Penzance had taken his board out for an evening surf in November last year.

As darkness fell he became too tired to paddle back to shore, and despite wearing a wetsuit he began to suffer hypothermia.

A search and rescue operation was sparked after a local woman found his clothes and bike on the shore.

Penlee Lifeboat crew were able to locate him after a difficult three hour search.

A paddle boarder who was rescued by the RNLI after drifting for six hours in freezing seas has met his rescuers Credit: ITV News

Joe has been meeting the crew that saved him today ahead of a fundraising evening he's planning on 9th May.

Joe's Big Thank You night is at The Mill Bar and Restaurant in Penzance on 9th May at 7pm.

The RNLI says it's holding its own Mayday fundraising event from 1st-4th May, and is looking for people to volunteer for collections.

I am deeply touched and as deeply grateful to everyone involved in saving my life. My family and I wanted to show our heartfelt thanks to the RNLI and everyone involved and thought a big night of music and entertainment would be a perfect way to get everyone together to celebrate the charity's Mayday event.

– Joe Holtaway
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