Kent

Honduras 'crash death' man Anthony McErlean admits fraud

A man faked his own death in a fictitious car crash in Honduras in a bid to commit insurance fraud.

Making the claim, Anthony McErlean, 66, of Kent, pretended to be his wife who said her husband had died in a crash when was struck by a produce truck.

Kent Police said a "witness" invented as part of the claim said a truck full of farm workers had taken his body to a small nearby village.

McErlean admitted four charges of fraud and theft at Canterbury Crown Court.

'Wildlife photography'

After he entered his guilty pleas, Kent Police revealed details of how the fraud was carried out.

Officers said McErlean, of Swarling Hill Road, Petham, invented a witness who claimed to have been travelling with him to take rural wildlife photos.

McErlean had to change a wheel on the car they were using, the lie went, and while he was doing this he was fatally struck by the produce truck.

Farm workers took him to the nearby village of Santa Rosa De Aguan where they took care of his body, it was claimed.

McErlean, posing as his wife, tried to make a death benefit claim of £520,000.

But the insurance company was suspicious of the claim and contacted police. The money was never paid out.

Motorway arrest

The force said McErlean had been charged with the insurance fraud on 16 March and his passport was taken from him.

His bail conditions included not leaving or attempting to leave the UK at any time and not to apply for any travel documents for any reason, but McErlean applied for a new passport which was issued days later.

He was later rearrested on the M6 in Staffordshire, police said.

Kent Police said McErlean was later also found to be claiming pensions relating to his father-in-law from a previous marriage, who had died in March 2007.

McErlean admitted making a false claim to an insurance company to claim death benefit.

He also admitted two counts of theft and false representation by claiming he had lost his passport.

'Genuine customers'

And he pleaded guilty to stealing £40,600 from the Department for Work and Pensions and £27,600 from the Port of London Authority Pension Fund.

He was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced in July.

After the hearing, Glen Marr, director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau said: "The insurance industry takes all form of insurance fraud very seriously."

He added: "Our industry is no longer an easy target for these criminals and we are determined to protect our genuine customers."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites