Lincolnshire £5m fraud suspect 'may be dead in France'

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Robert Stapleton
Image caption,
Robert Stapleton disappeared from Ireland in 2005

A Lincolnshire man who has been on the run for more than 25 years is believed to have been found dead in France.

Robert Stapleton, 67, is wanted in connection with a £5m fraud, with Irish and UK warrants for his arrest.

Lincolnshire Police said he was wanted over allegations of fraud relating to companies he controlled.

Mr Stapleton was arrested on a European arrest warrant in Ireland in 2005 but failed to surrender to extradition and disappeared.

It is believed his body was found at the roadside in Montfort-sur-Meu, near Rennes, in Brittany on 22 May.

Fled the country

It is understood his death is not being treated as suspicious.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs have been contacted about the death by the French authorities, who are working on the assumption that the dead man is Mr Stapleton, based on the documentation found on the body.

No formal identification has taken place.

In a statement, Lincolnshire Police: "An investigation has been ongoing to establish that the body is that of Robert Stapleton who has been wanted by Lincolnshire Police since he left the country in 1985.

"At that time he was under investigation after fraud allegations.

"Should it be confirmed after forensic and other tests that Robert Stapleton has died we will be contacting victims of the alleged frauds and any other interested parties to update them about the developments.

"We have already spoken to the Crown Prosecution Service who have supported our efforts to bring Mr Stapleton to justice."

Mr Stapleton, who lived near Boothby Graffoe in Lincolnshire, operated a double glazing business in Lincolnshire in the late 1970s.

He fled the country in 1985 after having moved into other ventures including building squash courts and gyms.

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