Oban man's 'dead' brother turned up over 40 years later as Honolulu conman

For decades Paul Woodhouse believed his errant brother to be dead.

Having last heard of him in the late 1960s, their father later told Mr Woodhouse his brother, Peter Roy, had died in South Africa.

So when a chance telephone call revealed that not only was he still alive, but that he was languishing in a Hawaiian jail having stolen his Scottish brother's identity, Mr Woodhouse was a little taken aback.

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Mr Woodhouse, 62, who lives near Oban, Argyll, spoke to his brother, known as Roy, on Wednesday last week, for the first time in 49 years.

"When I phoned Roy, I just said, 'How are you? How is the guy who has come back from the dead.' I didn't ask too many questions, because I think he was pretty nervous about speaking to me," he said.

The black sheep of the family was in borstals as a teenager and in 1967 stowed away on the Queen Mary, but was arrested at New York harbour and deported back to Britain, where he was sentenced to a term in Winchester Prison.

After his release, he appears to have used his brother Paul's name to obtain a passport and disappeared abroad. It is not known why his late father, Isaiah, told the family Roy had died in South Africa, but, according to Roy himself, he moved to Honolulu in 1995, where at times he had lived rough.

However, his family was shocked to be called by an immigration officer from Hawaii informing them that Roy, 69, was now in a detention centre in Honolulu and had admitted using Paul's name on his passport since the 1960s.

Today, Mr Woodhouse, a devout Christian, said he felt only love and forgiveness for his long-lost brother and said: "It is amazing, a miracle. Yes, Roy has taken my identity, but so far it has not had any adverse effect on my life."

He added: "We hadn't heard of him for many years, then, before my father died, he told us that Roy had died in South Africa - now we will never know why he said that."

US immigration officer Joy Tokunago spent months trying to trace Roy's family to confirm proof about his real name. His release from the centre, and planned return to Britain, could not go ahead until new identity papers were issued.

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Ms Tokunago finally traced the family through another brother in England.

Mr Woodhouse then e-mailed the Hawaii detention centre to help confirm his brother's identity.He said: "I had to give them some stories that only Peter Roy would be able to answer questions about.

"I found out then that he had used my name and details until last year, when he was put in custody in Honolulu. He suddenly decided to tell them he had been using my name.

"At 69 years of age he suddenly decided he is going to go back to being Peter Roy Woodhouse. I still don't know what he was detained for, although I don't think it is anything too serious as they are now organising his release."

Mr Woodhouse added: "I know he wants to come back to Britain. He is probably just running out of options now he is getting older. He did tell me on the phone that he has some health issues, but he didn't say what they were.

"I don't know what he's been doing all this time, but he said he has never married or had a family. He told me he had been in Honolulu since 1995, doing a bit of everything and living rough."

Ms Tokunago said: "With regard to Roy's repatriation to the UK, we have gotten very close and should have a departure date soon."

Last night, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm that Peter Roy Woodhouse was arrested in Hawaii on 17 May, 2010, and that we are providing consular assistance."

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