Allen Stanford Spits Up Blood in Court

R. Allen Stanford, the former billionaire accused of a $7 billion fraud, arrives at federal court in Houston wearing handcuffs and leg irons October 14, 2009. Stanfords status hearing begins on Wednesday. REUTERSBillionaire financier and cricket entrepreneur Sir Allen Stanford spat up blood in court after suffering a severe beating in a jailhouse brawl.

The tycoon is facing a 375-year prison sentence for allegedly masterminding a $7bn (£4.3bn) scam.

The 59-year-old, who denies fraud and money-laundering, removed the blood using tissues and a cup during a preliminary trial hearing in Houston, Texas.

Judge David Hittner interrupted the proceedings to ask Stanford’s lawyer Kent Schaffer: “Is your client okay?”

But the businessman nodded and rebuffed a court officer who tried to help him.

It was the tycoon’s first court appearance since he suffered a mild concussion, a broken nose and two black eyes during a prison fight in September.

There was faint bruising on Stanford’s face and he looked gaunt, as his lawyer asked for more time to prepare a defence case.

Judge Hittner told the court: “You will get a trial date set by me after the next conference,” adding that the next hearing was likely to be in December.

Mr Schaffer told reporters that prison doctors could not explain why his client was ill, but noted the stress of the case and imprisonment were taking an emotional and physical toll.

Stanford was moved into solitary confinement, in an 8ft by 9ft cell, after the brawl and cannot make phone calls or see family visitors, the lawyer said.

“It’s just harassment. They are trying to break him down,” Mr Schaffer added.

Stanford was arrested in June over claims he headed a scheme in which fraudulent certificates of deposit from an Antiguan bank were sold to clients.

www.skynews.com

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