Homeless man admits Louis Theroux pub con

The man booked a hotel and taxi under Theroux's name. Picture: BBC

The man booked a hotel and taxi under Theroux's name. Picture: BBC

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A MAN has admitted conning pub staff in Somerset into believing he was BBC documentary-maker Louis Theroux.

Allan Debenham, 39, pleaded guilty to two charges of making a false representation by claiming he was “Louis Theroux from the BBC”.

Magistrates in Yeovil were told Debenham had booked a room at the £70 per night Duke of York at Shepton Beauchamp, near Ilminster, in the name of the presenter and author.

Debenham provided staff at the pub with a telephone number for the BBC’s finance department and an order number to arrange payment for his three-night stay.

The homeless alcoholic also pretended to be Mr Theroux’s personal assistant and got them to put two bottles of wine on his room tab.

He was only rumbled when staff became suspicious when the PA telephoned again asked for two bottles of wine and “some fags” to be taken to Debenham’s room.

The defendant, of Hamilton Road, Taunton, pleaded guilty to two charges of dishonestly making a false representation by claiming he was Theroux.

Prosecutor Emma Chetland told South Somerset Magistrates’ Court that on the evening of April 21 a man called the pub saying he was “Louis Theroux from the BBC” and made a reservation for three nights.

“Later the pub receives another telephone call purporting to be from Louis Theroux’s PA who gives a telephone number for the BBC’s finance department and an order number to arrange payment,” Miss Chetland said.

“He also asks for two bottles of wine to be left outside the room. The PA rings again and asks for two bottles of cava and some fags - to use his words - to be left outside the same room.

“The person taking the call becomes suspicious at the use of the word ‘fags’ rather than cigarettes. They go upstairs and find the door to the room locked. They call the telephone number that was left and find it to be unobtainable and they call the BBC who tell them the order number is not one they recognise.”

Pub staff called police and Debenham was arrested.

Investigations revealed that the defendant had also booked a taxi to take him to the pub.

“The taxi was booked in the name of Louis Theroux and they were told they might not recognise that person as he had put on a bit of weight but they should send the bill to the BBC,” Miss Chetland added.

The court heard that Debenham defrauded the owners of the pub out of £165 - the cost of two nights and the two bottles of wine - and the taxi firm of a £14.70 fare.

Chris Ivory, defending, described it as a “sad case” with Debenham turning to alcohol after losing his job, his partner and his home at the end of last year.

“As a result Mr Debenham had turned to alcohol. He was desperate and he didn’t have anywhere to go,” he said.

“In desperation he tried it on. He managed to get a couple of nights free accommodation and he accepts the prosecution case in respect of that.

“April was a month that was pretty much a blur to him.”

Mr Ivory said Debenham is seeking help for his alcohol addiction from Turning Point and has been provided with accommodation.

Magistrates adjourned sentence until June 25 for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

Veronica Horman, chairwoman of the bench, told him: “It is good news that you are in touch with Turning Point because once you have recognised you have reached the lowest point the only way is up.”

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