Sheffield conman living it up behind bars

James Burdall's swimmign pool at his home
James Burdall's swimmign pool at his home
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A Sheffield businessman conned out of £1.2 million by his best friend has spoken of his disgust at claims the fraudster is living it up behind bars.

James Burdall, aged 49, was jailed for four years in March for stealing cash from the firms he ran for businessman pal Lawrence Wosskow.

James Burdall

James Burdall

Former Little Chef boss Wosskow, 51, trusted Burdall to run his Out of Town Leisure Group empire and his ice cream firm, Bradwell’s, while he recovered from a heart attack.

But while Mr Wosskow was recuperating from his health scare in Florida, where he set up home, Burdall systematically fleeced his accounts.

Out of Town Leisure, which ran around 15 restaurants at Meadowhall, was put into administration and hundreds of workers lost their jobs.

But instead of languishing behind bars, a Hatfield Prison source claims Burdall, of Cottage Lane, Bents Green, Sheffield, is living in a unit where cells have flat screen TVs and fitted carpets.

Lawrence Wosskow

Lawrence Wosskow

The unit is also reported to have its own gym.

Burdall is also said to have a £20 a week job on the Prisoner Information Desk, welcoming new inmates and providing tours of the jail.

“Burdall managed to live a life of luxury on the outside and he’s doing the same behind bars. He’s got the cushiest number here,” claimed the source.

The conman was jailed after admitting four counts of fraud by abuse of position.


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His victim, Mr Wosskow, who now lives in The Bahamas, said he is ‘sickened’ at the conman’s reported ‘privileges’ behind bars.

Speaking exclusively to The Star from the Caribbean, he said: “I am sure those whose lives he ruined will be interested to find out how the British Justice System is treating him.

“To find out that the time he is serving is in a privileged position is not right - it is not sending the right message out to victims of crime or offenders themselves if they thing this is what awaits them behind bars.”

Mr Wosskow and Burdall met as children when they both attended Birkdale Junior School.

A prison worker refuting the claims said: “He is on a normal unit and getting paid for the job he does. He is not treated any differently to any other prisoner.

“He has not got access to anything that any other prisoner hasn’t.

“At Hatfield the deprivation of liberty is the punishment, not what we do to them in here.”