A CRIMINAL posing as a businessman who was found in possession of thousands of pounds worth of stolen cash has avoided jail.

Benjamin Kershaw appeared at Chester Crown Court today (February 12) where he was handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

It comes after the 43-year-old, of Oakleigh Rise in Northwich, admitted to possession of criminal property, namely £11,000 in stained cash obtained during an armed robbery.

Following the sentencing Detective Constable Claire Heatley of Northwich Proactive Team, said: “Kershaw portrayed himself as a successful honest businessman, but in reality, he is a criminal who was clearly involved in laundering stolen cash of behalf of his criminal associates.

“The messages we discovered on Kershaw’s phone were damning. They revealed that the money found at his home had been stolen during an armed robbery in around 2018.

“They also revealed that Kershaw had employed team of criminal associates to remove the dye from the stained bank notes so that it could be used legitimately.

“Thanks to these messages, along with the other evidence we gathered, Kershaw was no left with no option but to eventually plead guilty to the charges against him.”

Northwich Guardian: The stolen cash was found at his home during a police raidThe stolen cash was found at his home during a police raid (Image: Cheshire Police)

Officers conducted a warrant at Kershaw’s former home on Bishops Way in Northwich on August 8, 2020, in connection with an unrelated matter.

While searching the address, officers found £20,710 in cash in his bedroom and in his car parked on the driveway.

More than £11,000 of this had been stained red and blue, meaning it had either been stolen from an ATM or a cash-in-transit vehicle.

During questioning, Kershaw claimed to have got the cash after selling a Rolex to someone on holiday.

However, Judge Patrick Thompson called this a “cock and bull story” that was “just not true”.

According to Cheshire Police, messages and images discovered on Kershaw’s phone suggest the cash was actually from an armed robbery and that he was laundering the money for an organised crime gang.

Defending, Ian Whitehurst said Kershaw was “remorseful” and had apologised for his behaviour.

He noted his client’s poor health, including sickle cell amenia and arthritis, as well as the “detrimental impact” of previous accusations put against him, of which he was acquitted.  

Northwich Guardian: Kershaw claimed he got the cash from selling a RolexKershaw claimed he got the cash from selling a Rolex (Image: Cheshire Police) 

Sentencing, Patrick Thompson said Kershaw had a history of dishonesty including the handling of stolen goods in 2007 and twice perverting the course of justice, in 2014 and 2021.

However, believing there was a “realistic prospect of rehabilitation”, he sentenced him to 12 months, suspended for two years.

Kershaw must also complete 35 days of rehabilitation activity, 19 sessions of the thinking skills programme, and pay a £1,000 fine.

He has also been banned from being a company director for his unfit conduct whilst running several businesses, Cheshire Police have said.