Fraudster who conned Adam Johnsons family killed himself drinking acid in court

A fraudster described as "extremely intelligent" managed to take his own life in a courtroom after being jailed, by drinking acid.

55-year-old Mark Marshall once conned the family of disgraced footballer Adam Johnson out of £170,000.

He was sentenced for fraud in April 2019 at London Crown Court, where he managed to smuggle a corrosive substance past security in his sock, an inquest heard today.

Marshall died two months after ingesting the substance in a water bottle, suffering severe chemical burns and multiple organ failure, reports The Mirror.

A jury ruled today the death was suicide, and said Marshall’s actions were “pre-meditated to evade typical security measures at the court and dock”.

Jurors also noted a suicide risk form was not filled out by probation services and a security policy banning food and drink in the dock was not adhered to.

Southwark Coroner’s Court heard Marshall sipped and threw the liquid over himself after hearing he was going to prison for two years and four months for buying £77,000 of photography equipment with fake cheques and flogging it to cash converters.

Marshall’s widow Theresa Mulberry said the conman had been diagnosed with a personality disorder and tried to take his life at least five other times while in prison.

She described him as "extremely intelligent, very sporty" and as from a "fairly well-to-do family".

She said: “His life was a cycle, it was always repeating. If he was in prison there was a suicide attempt or self harm and he was moved to another. He was never nasty or violent, but he was always motivated by financial gain.”

Dock officer Denesha Duff said she saw Marshall take a swig of the drink after he was sentenced.

She said: "I stood up saying ‘what are you doing?’ interrupting the judge and he took a quick swig. The bottle and the lid then dropped to the floor on my right. I flinched to get away and the defendant screamed ‘acid, acid’."

The record of today's inquest described how Marshall took his own life.

It reads: "We infer that the water bottle and acid granules were combined during Mark’s second visit to the toilet during the court break.

"He then enters the court and then the dock with the bottle. The dock officer does not execute SOP055 which states that food and drink is not permitted in the dock. There was also no escalation to alert others of the prohibited item entering the dock.

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"The dock officer requested Mark to complete a sip test but does not challenge Mark when he declines.

"The dock officer completes a type B search. Mark is allowed to keep his property whilst in the dock. After sentencing, Mark picks up his bottle containing acid and drinks from it."

In 2016, Marshall told footballer Johnson's family that he had spent 25 years working for GCHQ and MI6, and could unearth evidence to help get the paedophile off the hook.

In 2014, he conned the ex-wife of bankrupt business tycoon Scot Young out of £14,000 after persuading her to hire his firm Fullproof Intelligence to help find the late Mr Young’s fortune.

In April 2014 he defrauded Harrods out of a £216,000 Hublot watch and a second watch, camera and designer clothes worth £28,000.

In 2011 the fraudster was sentenced to three years for conning several elite UK athletes with offers of lucrative sponsorships ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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