Conman who posed as Dando trial QC is jailed

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The Independent Online

For Dr Annie Park-McGuinness, the patients passing through casualty on 12 December last year had been unremarkable until a "famous barrister" came in complaining of the after effects of a crash in his Aston Martin.

The man said he was Orlando Pownall, a leading QC and the prosecutor in the trial of the killer of Jill Dando. He told Dr Park-McGuinness, a consultant at University College Hospital, that they had "mutual friends" and she invited himto stay at her family home for a few days before Christmas. It was only after she discovered a few days later that he had fled with her gold credit card that she realised she had fallen victim to the silver-tongued confidence trickster dubbed "King Con".

Orlando Pownall QC was in fact Paul Bint, a 41-year-old former hairdresser from Northampton whose "talent" for impersonation due to a "psychopathic disorder" has made him one of Britain's most prolific fraudsters.

A judge at Inner London Crown Court yesterday jailed Bint for four years and four months after he admitted eight charges of obtaining property by deception, two of theft and one of driving while disqualified.

The serial swindler, who has admitted to 500 offences during his 23-year criminal career, and whose 24 alter egos have included a wealthy hotelier, property magnate, ballet dancer, peer and surgeon, was described in court as inhabiting a fantasy world, driven by a chronic inability to accept himself as he is.

But despite being diagnosed as suffering from a psychopathic condition, he cannot be admitted to hospital because his condition is currently considered untreatable.

The conman used Dr Park-McGuinness' credit card to fund a spending spree which was then followed by the theft of a second card from a dying patient at a second London hospital, the Whittington in Archway, north London. This was used to pay for a £1,000 romantic weekend at a Knightsbridge Hotel.

The court heard that when he was arrested, Bint was found in possession of a stolen wig and gown, legal papers relating to the case of Jeremy Bamber and two bogus interview tapes bearing the names of Huntley and Carr - a reference to the couple due to stand trial for Soham murders.

The conman's lust for impersonation began as a teenager when, after being raised in a children's home following his parents' divorce, he posed as a doctor after undergoing an appendix operation at the age of 14.

In 1983, he was remanded to a psychiatric hospital after being caught impersonating doctors at 10 hospitals during which he had arranged x-rays, put 12 stitches into a man's head wound and attended a man with a collapsed lung.

He has subsequently been involved in numerous scams, including the impersonation of another QC, a barrister involved in the Lockerbie trial, by pretending his laptop contained vital data which had been stolen from a train.