Homeless alcoholic pleads guilty to conning pub staff by saying he was Louis Theroux

The man from Somerset used the ploy to get a free taxi ride, a hotel stay, two bottles of cava and "some fags"

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The Independent Online

A man has pleaded guilty to two charges of making a false representation by claiming to be TV star Louis Theroux.

Alan Debenham, 39, admitted conning staff at a pub in Somerset by saying he was "Louis Theroux from the BBC".

He used the ruse to book a room at the £70-a-night Duke of York at Shepton Beauchamp, near Ilminster, magistrates in Yeovil were told.

He provided 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, convincing staff to put two bottles of wine and "some fags" on his room tab - a request which provoked suspicion among the staff.

Prosecutor Emma Chetland told South Somerset Magistrates' Court that on April 21 a man called the pub to make the reservation.

"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," she 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. Upon investigation, it was discovered 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.

Chris Ivory, defending, said Debenham had turned to alcohol after losing his job, his partner and his home at the end of last year. He described it as a "sad case".

He added: "April was a month that was pretty much a blur to him."