Jail for restaurant rogue who didn't pay
A fraudster with expensive tastes for eating out at Michelin-starred restaurants and then refusing to pay has been jailed for two years, despite the fact that he had already been banned from every restaurant in Britain.
Christopher Travis, 53, has enjoyed sumptuous meals at some of the country's most exclusive restaurants without paying a penny, doing a runner before he paid the bill.
Travis now has more than 80 previous convictions, almost half for eating meals in Michelin-starred restaurants and pubs before slipping out without paying.
The man, who is homeless, already has an ASBO banning him from every restaurant in Britain which he breached for a 14th time, a court heard.
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Making his 88th court appearance yesterday, Travis admitted eating yet another free meal at tapas bar Lorenzo's Spanish restaurant in Plymouth, Devon.
He ate several dishes and drank glasses of wine on January 14, before informing staff that he had only 20p on him.
Travis has now swapped gourmet cuisine for prison food after a judge proved that there is no such thing as a free lunch and sentenced him to jail.
The court heard Travis had "bilked" at restaurants across the country including Devon, Cornwall, Derby, Oxford and Lincoln.
Prosecuting, Alistair Verheijen said: ''On the day in question the defendant went to Lorenzo's restaurant, where he ordered food and drink to the value of £20.45.
"When he finished, the bill was presented and he appeared to pat himself before telling staff he was unable to pay.
"He asked them if they could defer the payment, which was refused, and then he was asked if he had a friend who could pay for him. He replied not.
"He went on to tell them he had been in and out of prison and wanted to go back."
Travis admitted breaching his ASBO and fraud by false representation.
Jailing him, Judge Paul Darlow said: "You made an order and patted your pockets. You knew you weren't going to pay for that.
"That was an act of fraud, dishonesty and obtaining services. It was also a breach of the anti-social behaviour order.
"You have been before this court time and time and time again for exactly the same sort of behaviour."
In June 2010 Travis was given his three-year ASBO at South Derbyshire Magistrates' Court after he dined out at a Derby restaurant and ran off without paying the bill.
Travis was undeterred, however, conning several more free meals in Lincolnshire in 2011 before dodging a £17.85 bill at an Oxford restaurant he had already cheated three times before.
Defending, Malcolm Clark said homeless Travis wanted to rehabilitate himself and had enrolled in an Open University course.
Mr Clark said: "He is not an uneducated man, he has served in the Army but now the time has come that he wants help but wants to help himself."