LONDON — A British fraudster who pretended to be quadriplegic and sometimes comatose for two years to avoid prosecution has been convicted after police caught him on camera driving and strolling around supermarkets.
Alan Knight of Swansea, Wales, stole more than 40,000 pounds ($64,000) from the bank account of an elderly neighbor with Alzheimer's disease, prosecutors said.
Knight was arrested in 2012 for the alleged theft, a South Wales Police spokesman said. When police began investigating, the 47-year-old Knight claimed to be quadriplegic and so sick he sometimes fell into a coma. He checked himself into a hospital to avoid court appearances, saying he was having seizures.
The South Wales Evening Post reported Wednesday that the suspect's wife, Helen Knight, had written to the newspaper saying her husband had obtained a doctor's letter certifying he was "quadriplegic and in a comatose condition, bed-bound at home" after a neck injury.
"We've been through absolute hell and we're still going through hell," she wrote, according to the newspaper.
Knight and his wife, Helen Knight, even attempted to prove Knight's medical condition by photographing themselves in their home with Knight appearing to be unconscious and surrounded by medical equipment.
Knight's deceit was uncovered when police tracked the use of his supermarket card, and produced surveillance camera footage of him walking and driving.
Warned that the trial would go ahead whether he was present or not, Knight arrived at Swansea Crown Court Tuesday in a wheelchair and neck brace. Faced with the video evidence, he pleaded guilty to 19 counts of forgery, fraud and theft. His wife has not been charged with any offense.
Judge Paul Thomas, who was overseeing Knight's case, said Knight's injury claim was "unique" and wanted to discourage anyone else who might try it, according to the Daily Telegraph.
"His illnesses coincide with impending court appearances. I do not believe the symptoms are genuine," the judge was quoted as saying by the South Wales Evening Post.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 7.