Droylsden fraudster arrested in South Africa after 21 years on the run
Wednesday 10th April 2019 @ 15:58 by Tom Greggan
Droylsden News Tameside

A fugitive from Droylsden has been arrested in South Africa after more than two decades on the run.

64-year-old Brandon William Pyatt was convicted of serious fraud and deception offences in 1998 and sentenced to five years in prison. However, he skipped bail during the trial and fled the UK, sparking a manhunt that lasted 21 years.

That finally came to an end last week, when Pyatt was arrested in Pretoria by officers from the South African Police Service. They were acting on information supplied by the National Crime Agency as part of an operation to track down fugitives who continue offending and are still causing harm within communities both at home and abroad.

Pyatt’s initial conviction in 1998 was the result of an investigation by officers from the National Crime Squad, a precursor agency to the NCA, relating to a series of frauds committed by the vehicle-leasing firm he operated in the mid-1990s.

Some of Pyatt’s victims suffered significant financial loss, often running into the tens of thousands, with some even losing their businesses and livelihoods.

It’s believed Pyatt fled immediately after he failed to return to court and continued to evade authorities by using a series of false identities.

NCA officer Danny Murphy worked on the original investigation into Pyatt in 1998 and has been involved in the hunt for him ever since, working first for the National Crime Squad, then the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and eventually into the NCA. He said: “Having been involved in this case since the National Crime Squad and having led it ever since I can say that the arrest of Pyatt brings me great personal satisfaction.

“We never gave up, and his eventual capture is testament to the hard work of NCA officers in the UK and abroad and the South African Authorities.

“I hope the victims of Pyatt’s offending will now experience some form of closure knowing that he is finally behind bars and I thank them for their patience over the last two decades.”

As well as being wanted by the NCA, Pyatt is also wanted by South Yorkshire Police for fraud and theft offences allegedly committed during his time in South Africa. He has been charged with those offences and appeared at a court in Durban yesterday.

The South African case against him will be dealt with before any extradition proceedings to bring him back to the UK can start.

Ian Cruxton, head of international operations for the NCA, said: “Pyatt travelled to the other side of the world and using a range of aliases and assumed identities in a bid to evade us.

“He is a prolific fraudster, and it seems that during his time in South Africa he has continued his offending and continued causing harm, making it all the more important that we track him down.

“We worked hard with the South African Police Service to bring about his capture.

“His arrest demonstrates that no matter how far fugitives travel in an attempt to evade us, and no matter how long it takes, we will never give up. Our reach is global, and we will continue to pursue them and bring them back to the UK to face justice.”