Conman who posed as a doctor and barrister jailed for two years

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A serial conman, whose prolific record as a trickster included posing as a locum doctor in hospitals and pretending to be an aristocrat to steal expensive cars on test drives, was jailed for two years yesterday.

A serial conman, whose prolific record as a trickster included posing as a locum doctor in hospitals and pretending to be an aristocrat to steal expensive cars on test drives, was jailed for two years yesterday.

Paul Bint tricked rail chiefs into putting him up in a luxury hotel for three nights, Newcastle Crown Court heard. The former hairdresser claimed to be a barrister, and told staff on Virgin's Birmingham to Glasgow train his laptop computer, with crucial case details, had been stolen. The train stopped so long for a search that the remainder of the passengers had to be taken to Glasgow by taxi. Bint, of no fixed address, was put up for three nights in Edinburgh, at the cost of £545.

He admitted stealing barristers' robes and a wig from Birmingham Crown Court to lend authenticity to his claims.

Bint, also known as Lachlan Gates, has served sentences for impersonating professional people, and had been treated in a psychiatric unit. Since 1980 he has committed 116 offences and appeared in court 17 times.

Judge William Crawford said: "It's clear you are a most imaginative, ingenious, plausible and, for a period, a successful confidence trickster.

"But as far as these offences are concerned, I give you credit for pleading guilty and I have been moved by your counsel, so you can expect a lesser sentence than you might have thought."

Bint's favourite scam involved posing as a locum doctor and touring the wards of various hospitals. Once he groped a woman's breast, using the phrase: "Trust me - I'm a doctor."

He was first caught in 1983, but only after he had arranged X-rays, attended a man who had a collapsed lung, put 12 stitches in another man's head wound and tried to bluff his way into a heart bypass operation.

In 1993 he was ordered to be kept indefinitely at a psychiatric hospital in York after Nottingham Crown Court heard he had bluffed his way into St James's hospital in Leeds posing as a doctor.

He wandered the corridors carrying a stolen bleeper and attending patients. Once he told the parents of a 17-year-old girl hurt in a crash she would live. Six hours later she died.

Bint often posed as an aristocrat, and claimed to be a dancer with the Royal Festival Ballet. In 1983, he gatecrashed a party held by Viscount Linley, and he also tried to introduce himself to Koo Stark by sending a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne to her table.

In 1984, he was jailed for five years at the Old Bailey and was told by Judge Nina Lowry: "You are not mentally ill. You have an unfortunate talent which you have used over and over again to persuade others that your fantasy world exists."

In 1988, he was sentenced to four years at St Albans for tricking a salesman out of an £83,000 Ferrari while posing as the Earl of Arundel. He also once took a Golf GTI while pretending to be a relative of the then Lord Chancellor.

Calling himself Piers Oppenheimer, he test-drove a Porsche - and disappeared with it. He also once posed as Lord Forte's grandson to do the same with a Rolls-Royce.

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