Wednesday 21 February 2018

Notorious fraudster 'who plotted to kill Prince Harry' is released from prison

Ashraf Islam, 31, formerly known as Mark Townley
Ashraf Islam, 31, formerly known as Mark Townley
Ashraf Islam, 31, formerly known as Mark Townley

Sarah Henderson

A notorious fraudster who plotted to kill Prince Harry has been released from prison.

Muslim convert Ashraf Islam was due to leave Maghaberry jail last year after serving 18 months for threatening to kill the fifth in line to the throne, but he got more jail time after admitting masterminding a £56,000 (€75,000) UK-wide fraud racket and is only recently back on the streets,  Sunday Life report.

A member of Ashraf’s family, who are still based in Northern Ireland, confirmed he was out of jail but said: “We won’t be commenting. Every time a story appears it’s very painful for the family, especially for his mother and father.”

It’s not clear as yet if the 33-year-old remains living in Northern Ireland, but he has popped up in Dublin, London, Liverpool, the Middle East and Thailand in the past.

Born Mark Townley, he has used many different aliases to commit crime, mainly fraud, across the UK. His schemes have included fake loan, security, sporting equipment and modelling companies which left scores of people thousands of pounds out of pocket.

It is reported he served with the British Army, but was drummed out for misconduct.

Ashraf Islam, 31, formerly known as Mark Townley
Ashraf Islam, 31, formerly known as Mark Townley

His latest incarnation saw him convert to the Muslim faith and change his name by deed poll to Ashraf Islam.

Bizarrely, the heavily tattooed criminal seemed completely at odds with his new religion.

He dabbled in porn and told Sunday Life in 2012 of his plans to release an obscene film on Christmas Day called Jesus Christ Pornstar, with himself in the title role.

He received worldwide notoriety in May 2013 when he walked into a London police station just 24 hours after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by Islamic fanatics on the streets of Woolwich and announced his “advanced plans” to gun down Prince Harry.

He claimed he’d wanted to kill the royal because he “had blood on his hands” after taking part in two tours of Afghanistan — and plotted to disarm a bodyguard and use his gun to shoot Harry.

The would-be killer gave himself up after starting to feel nervous about his plans.

Police then found a document on the crook’s computer that read: “Aim for target. No civilians to be injured. Dress code is the biker look. Use low-calibre pistol at close range. Not to be viewed as Islamist extremist.”

Jailing him, Judge Richard McGregor-Johnson said: “The examination of your computer revealed you conducted research on his [Prince Harry’s] whereabouts and intentions. You had given the matter considerable thought.”

He went on to describe the plot as “vague and unlikely to succeed”, but said Islam still presented a risk to the public.

During his court cases, serious concerns for his mental health have been raised and during his latest sentencing for fraud at Belfast Crown Court last November it was heard he had been diagnosed as bipolar.

Belfast Telegraph

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