Pensioner who faked his own death for insurance claim is jailed for six years
A pensioner was jailed for six years today after he admitted faking his own death in Central America to try to pocket a £520,000 life insurance payout.
A judge said Anthony McErlean, 66, committed "deliberate and calculated fraud" after he impersonated his wife to claim he had died after being struck by a produce truck in Honduras on December 6, 2009.
Fake official documents, including a death certificate, were produced in a bid to back up his bogus tale, claiming the crash happened as McErlean was changing a tyre.
A 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.
Police were alerted by the Insurance Fraud Bureau, which had been contacted by suspicious officials at Ace European insurance company, which 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 debit card in the name of Green.
It emerged that not only had he faked his own death but he had been claiming pensions relating to his late father-in-law from a previous marriage who died in March 2007.
At Canterbury Crown Court on June 13, McErlean, of Swarling Hill Road, Petham, Kent, pleaded guilty to a series of charges.
They included fraudulently making a claim to the Ace European insurance firm, fraudulently obtaining a passport and 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.
Dressed smartly, bearded McErlean showed no emotion as he returned to the same court today to be sentenced by judge Adele Williams.
She told him: "This is deliberate and calculated fraud, not only from corporate bodies but also from the public.
"In my judgment, you were driven by a desire to gratify your own overweening greed.
"You sought to benefit at the expense of others."