Fisherman who faked his own obituary is jailed

A man who sent his faked obituary to a trade newspaper to avoid being prosecuted for fraud has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Derek Atkins, of Allaway Avenue, Portsmouth, submitted a false obituary to Fishing News for his alias, Roger Atkins.

He had previously pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court to more than 30 charges, including five charges of obtaining property by deception, 10 fraud charges, perverting the course of justice and posing as qualified personnel at sea.

The 56-year-old had also pleaded guilty to failing to notify changes to the sex offenders register and 21 fisheries charges brought by the Marine and Fisheries Agency.

Atkins sent his obituary to Fishing News in June 2007. Its editor, Tim Oliver, told the Daily Telegraph last week: “It’s not often we get people sending in their own obituaries.

“We have to take certain things on trust – it’s not as if we could have asked to see his body.”

Atkins’ obituary read: “He was totally dedicated to his career and had little time for officials, MPs or political parties, whom he believed were mostly a waste of time, money and effort.

“People found him to be a gentleman at sea with a great sense of humour who would always help anyone.

“He was a quiet family man and will be deeply missed by his family and friends.”

Brian Sharman, defending, told the court that his client, who was divorced from his wife of 20 years last year, had a drinking problem.

He added: “This man feels broken now. He has suffered some kind of angina attack and he now looks down the barrel of being 60 and what has he got?

“No wife, no reputation, just time in jail for pretending he was dead, perhaps now he wishes he was.”

Sentencing Derek Atkins to 30 months, Judge Ian Pearson at Portsmouth Crown Court said: “You are a lying, cunning, calculating fraudster – there’s no other description for you.”

Atkins was jailed for three months for failing to notify of changes to the sex offenders register, 12 months for perverting the course of justice, 12 months for the fraud offences and three months in default of fine payments for the fisheries offences.

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