UK-based Ghanaian bespoke couturier nabbed for drugs and other offences
UK-based Ghanaian couturier behind the Qumi Bespoke brand, Leslie Danso has been busted for a number of criminal activities and faces deportation for a second time. Danso has kitted out his famous clients for red carpet film premieres, TV shows and society weddings. He posed for pictures with actor Idris Elba and his customers included former England footballer Emile Heskey and ex-Premier League star Fabrice Muamba.
According to Daily Mail, many received free clothes in return for the publicity that their appearances in the spotlight inevitably created. But none of them knew that, behind his smiles, Danso was a ruthless fraudster and illegal immigrant who used false identities to rent properties across the capital – which were turned into underworld drug dens.
His boutique near London’s Tower Bridge was a vanity venture funded by his life of crime, and he even fraudulently leased six top-of-the-range BMWs. The Ghanaian now faces being deported – for the second time – after he was jailed for fraud and using counterfeit documents.
Scotland Yard remains unsure if Danso is his true identity, and believes that many of his victims have yet to come forward.Danso, 30, posed as the dapper proprietor of Qumi Couture, a bespoke menswear store. On his website, he described himself as ‘ever the sharp dresser’ and ‘a man going places’.
His shop outfitted clients for racing at Ascot and gala dinners, and his tailoring even featured in the pages of GQ Magazine.But it all collapsed after police uncovered a chain of drug safe-houses rented in false names across south-east London. In 2013 they found two flats in Rotherhithe rented under the fake names George Branson and Adam Smith.
At one, they found crack cocaine, heroin, cannabis, cash and ammunition, and at the second a man was caught red-handed cutting up heroin. Investigators learned that Danso had rented both flats and also used the names Kevin Walters and Kevin Reece. Eventually, police linked him to at least eight safe-houses in central London and affluent suburbs such as Sidcup and Bexleyheath.
Last May he was arrested at his luxury four-bedroom home in Dartford, Kent, where his designer clothes filled the entire loft conversion. The same day, officers found cash and more than a kilo of heroin and crack at a flat he rented in Bermondsey. Danso came to Britain in 1999, but was thrown out in 2008 in a deal struck by prosecutors after he was arrested over credit card fraud.
He returned just months later and set up Qumi, first as a designer and later as a director. Danso failed to pay rent and bills at the rented properties, including his Tower Bridge showroom. Some were stripped bare, and their fittings may have been sold on eBay or shipped abroad. Photographs found on his computer suggest Danso bought properties in Ghana.
Victims said that he was ‘well-educated, smooth-talking and arrogant’, and he begged police not to tell anyone about his arrest – while boasting that other inmates in Belmarsh Prison were in ‘awe’ of his clothes.
DC Jenny Woodward, who led the inquiry, said she had no doubt that other victims have yet to come forward.
She said: ‘He clearly lived the life. He loved flash cars and opening events. He was very proud that he did the tailoring for the wedding of a famous footballer.’
Danso claimed he did not know the rented flats were used to store drugs, and was not charged with any offences linked to the raids. But he was jailed for 14 months after admitting 11 counts of fraud and manufacturing and possession of false documents at a hearing last month.
The judge at Woolwich Crown Court ordered two counts of theft to remain on file. His cousin Manfred Gaisie, 34, of Stirling, admitted three counts of fraud and was handed 140 hours of community service.Two other men, both 27, were jailed for three years for drugs offences.