A British fugitive has been tracked down by National Crime Agency officers and arrested in South Africa after 21 years on the run. Brandon William Pyatt, now 64, was convicted of a serious of fraud and deception offences at Chester Crown Court in 1998 and sentenced to five years in prison.
However Pyatt, who is originally from Droylsden in Manchester, skipped bail during his trial and fled the UK, sparking a manhunt that lasted more than two decades.
That ended in Pretoria last week when he was arrested by officers from the South African Police Service. They were acting on information supplied by the NCA as part of an operation to track down fugitives who continue offending and are still causing harm within communities here and overseas.
Pyatt’s initial conviction was the result of an investigation by officers from the National Crime Squad, a precursor agency to the NCA. The investigation related to a series of frauds committed by a vehicle leasing firm operated by Pyatt in the north west of England in the mid-1990s.
Those offences led to victims suffering significant financial loss, often running into the tens of thousands, and some losing their businesses and livelihoods as a result.
Pyatt is believed to have gone abroad immediately after he failed to return to court, and continued to evade the authorities using a series of false identities.
As well as being wanted by the NCA for the original offences he is also wanted by South Yorkshire Police, and for fraud and theft offences allegedly committed during his time in South Africa. Pyatt appeared in court in Durban yesterday charged with those offences.
The South African case against him will be dealt with before any extradition proceedings to bring him back to the UK can commence.