Devon

'Homeless veteran' who had flat never served fined

Stephen Goldsmith
Image caption Stephen Goldsmith has a flat in Plymouth

A man pretending to be a homeless war veteran has been fined for begging on the streets.

Stephen Goldsmith, of Ladysmith Road in Plymouth, had already admitted four counts of begging in a public place.

The 47-year-old often used a cardboard sign claiming he was a homeless ex-serviceman when begging, but police found no evidence this was the case.

He was fined £100 and received a criminal behaviour order from Plymouth Magistrates Court.

Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Police said Goldsmith was not a war veteran

When he was arrested on 23 September he was using a cardboard sign that read he was ex-forces, "tired and lonely" and any help would be appreciated.

The court heard police had investigated the claim that Goldsmith was a veteran but had not been able to verify it.

The two-year criminal behaviour order means Goldsmith is not allowed to beg for money or enter an exclusion zone in Plymouth, except for attending pre-arranged probation or medical appointments.

Chairman Paul Walton said there were "some very serious issues to deal with today".

Goldsmith was also given a 12-month community order for assaulting a bus driver, which includes a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement. Plus he was ordered to pay £100 compensation.

On 30 July, he got a bus to Derriford Hospital but fell asleep and was sick. After being woken, Goldsmith became aggressive and hit the driver.

He has epilepsy and has used drugs for many years. At one point he was using £20 of heroin a day, the court heard.

It heard Goldsmith has a privately rented flat funded through housing benefit and is on long-term unemployment benefit.

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