UK: Pensioner jailed for six years for faking his own death

Pensioner Anthony McErlean was jailed for six years at Canterbury Crown Court today for faking his own death in Central America to try to pocket a �520,000 life insurance payout.

McErlean, 66, impersonated his wife to claim he had died after being struck by a produce truck in Honduras on December 6, 2009.

A faked witness statement was produced in a bid to back up his bogus tale, claiming the crash happened as he was changing a tyre.

The made-up witness said he was travelling with McErlean to take wildlife pictures, and that following the crash, farm workers took his body away to a small village called Santa Rosa De Aguan.

But police were alerted by the Insurance Fraud Bureau, which had been contacted by suspicious officials at Ace European insurance company, who did not pay out a penny to McErlean.

The case bears similarities to that of back-from-the-dead John Darwin, who faked his own death in a canoe accident off Teesside in 2002 to help him and his wife Anne claim insurance and pension cash before fleeing to Panama.

Detectives from Kent Police arrested McErlean and found him with a credit card in the name of Green.

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It emerged he had not only faked his own death but had been claiming pensions relating to his late father-in-law from a previous marriage, who died in March 2007.

McErlean, of Swarling Hill Road, Petham, Kent, pleaded guilty to a charge of fraudulently making a claim to Ace European insurance firm when he appeared at Canterbury Crown Court on June 13.

He also admitted two counts of theft from a pension fund from the Port of London Authority totalling some �27,000, and �40,658 from the Department of Work and Pensions.

The charge relating to the passport was laid after McErlean applied for a new passport, despite being given strict bail conditions ordering him not to apply for any travel documents.

Officers from the Serious Economic Crime Unit at Kent Police intercepted the new passport and McErlean was re-arrested on March 28 on the M6 in Staffordshire.