Thu, Nov 10, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Impostor caught after 23 years, gets 21 months in jail

AFP , LONDON

An impostor who stole the identity of a British baby who died in 1963 was sentenced to 21 months in prison by an English court on Tuesday.

The man, who refuses to reveal his true identity -- even to his children -- lived for 23 years under the name of Christopher Edward Buckingham, to which he added the prefix Lord, reviving the coat of arms last in use in the 18th century.

He was jailed for passport offences after it was discovered he had assumed the name using the same method as the professional killer in the 1971 Frederick Forsyth novel The Day Of The Jackal.

Detective Constable David Sprigg, who investigated the case, said: "I think that he has got some dark secret that he is hiding and he doesn't want us to know what it is. He is very calm and very calculated and knows what he is doing and unless we find something on him, he is just going to sit there and say `I am Christopher Buckingham.'"

He married a Canadian in 1984, divorcing in 1997. His two children, aged 19 and 17, who inherited the Buckingham surname, still haven't the slightest idea who he is, just like the police.

He told his ex-wife his parents were killed in an air crash.

Judge Adele Williams sentenced him to a jail sentence at Canterbury Crown Court in Kent, southeast England, criticizing his "lack of remorse."

She called the case an "intriguing conundrum," adding: "Inevitably, someone does not assume a false identity unless there is a very good reason."

The man was caught out in January when British immigration officials checked his passport at the northeast French port of Calais and found it had been revoked in 2003, when a security trawl by the Passport Agency revealed an exact match with the Buckingham on the official Register of Deaths.

He was allowed to make the short ferry crossing to Dover, Kent, where he was subsequently arrested.

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