SHEFFIELD club king Peter Stringfellow has spoken of the short spell in prison he spent in his youth - which turned out to be one of his greatest mistakes.
The 70-year-old nightclub owner was a 20-year-old newlywed in 1960 when he was promoted to work as a door-to-door sales manager for a Sheffield company.
“I was flash,” he said. “I bought a suit and even tried to grow a moustache.
“I had to go to warehouses to sign out stock for us to sell. At the time, we were selling carpets for £10, but at the end of one week I saw that I had 10 carpets left over, which I hadn’t signed out.
“Any normal law-fearing person would have returned them, but I thought, ‘What can I make out of this?’ and I sold them on for £5 each.”
The steelworker’s son said he started to use his charm to continue his con, taking 30 carpets at a time but signing out only 15.
“But one day I got caught by two undercover police, and I was arrested along with three other managers. In the dock, one of the managers cried and the judge said he seemed remorseful and fined him £100. When it came to me, I pretended to cry into a handkerchief but the judge saw right through me.
“He said, ‘You, Mr Stringfellow, are a different kettle of fish. You think you’re quite flash for your age. You’re glib. You need to be taught a sharp lesson’. I was sentenced to three months in prison.”
Now a father and grandfather, and remarried to former ballerina Bella Wright, Stringfellow says the judge was right.
“I needed a lesson. Prison made me never want to go back. Now I pay my taxes, have no offshore accounts, and everything I do is 100 per cent legal.”
And he added: “What my mistakes have told me is that if, by 21, anyone hasn’t had any failure, they will never know how good success is.”