Homeless man admits pretending to be BBC presenter Louis Theroux to stay in Somerset hotel (From This is The West Country)
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Homeless man admits pretending to be BBC presenter Louis Theroux to stay in Somerset hotel
A HOMELESS Taunton man became so desperate for accommodation that he duped a pub into thinking he was TV journalist and broadcaster Louis Theroux and told them to bill the BBC.
Allan Debenham, 39, pleaded guilty at South Somerset Magistrates' Court in Yeovil today (June 14) to two counts of dishonestly making a false representation by claiming he was Mr Theroux.
The court heard Debenham, pictured, passed himself off as the TV presenter at the Duke of York pub in Shepton Beauchamp.
Prosecutor Emma Chetland said Debenham arrived at the village pub, which offers accommodation, at 5pm on April 21 this year and booked a double room for three nights at £70 per night.
He told them that he was Louis Theroux from the BBC and payment for his stay would be arranged through his personal assistant who would phone later.
MsChetland said the pub received a phone call from the supposed PA the following morning who told them that they should invoice the BBC financial department with the bill.
The court was told that two bottles of wine were also ordered at the same time, while later that day another phone call from the ‘PA’ arrived and asked for two bottles of Cava and ‘some fags’ to be taken to Debenham’s room.
Ms Chetland said the pub became suspicious about ‘the fags’ and when they tried to phone a given contact number they found it was unobtainable.
A further call to the BBC’s financial department was made and the pub was told that there were no such details for Louis Theroux’s stay.
The court heard that Debenham had initially arrived at the pub by a taxi belonging to Woods Taxis – who were also told the same story that he was 42-year-old Mr Theroux and that his PA would call about billing the BBC.
Ms Chetland said: "He told the taxi driver that they might not recognise him because he’d put on some weight.’"
Defence solicitor, Chris Ivory, told the court that Debenham’s life had taken a dramatic turn for the worse in December due to a relationship breakdown which had seen him resort to alcohol.
Mr Ivory said the defendant ‘lost his partner, lost his job, turned to alcohol and had become homeless'.
"He was desperate and didn’t have anywhere else to go,’’ said Mr Ivory.
"He was going from homeless shelter to shelter and in desperation he tried it on.’’
Mr Ivory said since the incident Debenham had gained more secure accommodation in Taunton and was getting support for his drinking problems.
The case was adjourned and Debenham was granted bail to appear back at the court on June 25 for sentencing.