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Husband and wife jailed over fraud-trial coma con.

Byline: Benjamin Wright newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

ACONMAN and his wife who tried to avoid justice for two years after pretending he was in a coma have both been jailed.

Alan Knight had claimed he was too ill to stand trial after swindling a frail 86-year-old man with dementia out of his PS41,000 life savings, as well as changing the pensioner's will.

He and wife Helen concocted a "cock-and-bull story", saying the 48-year-old was in a vegetative state after suffering a massive neck injury.

Swansea Crown Court heard the pair went to extraordinary lengths to try to derail his trial.

As well as admitting Knight to hospital - where he spent a total of 10 weeks - the couple arrived at court with him pretending to be unconscious while his 34-year-old wife pushed him in a wheelchair.

A judge was also told they managed to fool their local Labour MP into backing their case and invited local journalists into their specially adapted home while Knight was photographed "in a coma" and wearing an oxygen mask.

However, one police officer continued to track the couple and caught Knight driving his car over the Severn Bridge on one of several family holidays, having a go on the dodgems at a fair and the pair posing together at a wedding in Gloucester.

Judge Huw Davies jailed Alan Knight for 14 months.

Helen Knight was also handed an immediate prison sentence of 10 months.

Prosecutor Jim Davies said Knight attempted to feign illness from the moment he was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of forgery, theft and fraud.

Detectives began an investigation after PS41,570 was taken from the bank account of Knight's frail neighbour, Ivor Richards.

It was later discovered Knight also forged the pensioner's will, using the names of two dead women from a newspaper's obituary section as counter-signatories. Mr Davies said: "He arrived at the police station on crutches and later answered bail wearing a neckbrace and sitting in a wheelchair."

Mr Davies added that Knight and his wife would then go even further after being charged by police.

"They went to extraordinary lengths in their attempts to convince doctors that he was in a coma and unfit to stand trial," he said. "In total he was in hospital for 10 weeks... and he was subjected to several scans and neurological tests".

However, cracks in his story soon started to appear. Hospital nurses noticed that water from Knight's table would "magically disappear" during the night - despite him supposedly being unable to walk, talk or even feed himself.

And another doctor found Knight did not have any pressure sores and he also had good muscle definition.

However, the Knights continued to send the police and courts on a wild goose chase - and managed to hoodwink local Labour MP Geraint Davies into backing their case. They also put on a convincing act to two GPs, who wrote to the courts saying they believed Mr Knight was in a "minimally unconscious state" - managing to postpone his trial on five separate occasions.

As well as sticking to a not-guilty plea, Mr Knight at one point also tried to blame his own son for the cash theft.

However, the court heard that the couple were eventually caught out in their charade thanks to the dogged determination of Detective Constable Paul Harry. After tracing the Knights' Tesco Clubcard, he obtained CCTV footage of Mr Knight freely walking around a number of the supermarket's stores.

Police then discovered that in 2014 Mr Knight was found riding the dodgems, driving his car over the Severn Bridge before presenting a disabled badge in order to get a discount, as well as going for a stroll along the promenade in Aberystwyth.

Mr Knight finally pleaded guilty to 19 charges of theft and fraud and was jailed for four and a half years last November.

Judge Davies described the couple's attempts to avoid justice as "calculated" and "sophisticated".

Judge Davies said Knight's 14-month sentence would be served consecutively with his existing jail term.

Mrs Knight was told she had got a lesser sentence because she had been more "subordinate" in the deception.

CAPTION(S):

Alan Knight pretended to be unconscious while being pushed into <B court in a wheelchair he didn't need by wife Helen

Fraudster Knight pretended he was in a <B coma but was caught by police shopping in Tesco, above, and, below, on holiday in Aberystwyth with wife Helen
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 3, 2015
Words:739
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