‘Wal­ter Mitty’ lied about hav­ing can­cer

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

A man who pre­tended to be a fire­man to get a date and then turned up at a fire sta­tion claim­ing to have can­cer to get a photo of him­self in uni­form has es­caped a jail sen­tence.

Philip Walsh, 49, of 45 Rain­ford Road, Billinge, Wi­gan, pleaded guilty to caus­ing his ex-part­ner fear and alarm between June 27 and Au­gust 22 this year by re­peat­edly con­tact­ing her af­ter be­ing told not to do so, send­ing her gifts, giv­ing her false in­for­ma­tion about his em­ploy­ment and health, and trav­el­ling to Oban to see her.

The two be­gan talk­ing on an in­ter­net site, procu­ra­tor fis­cal Eoin McGinty told Oban Sher­iff Court on Tues­day (Oc­to­ber 9).

‘He said he was a fire­man. They met up. They be­gan a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship.

‘The com­plainer be­came sus­pi­cious that she did not know any­thing about his back­ground, and had seen no pho­tographs of him in his uni­form. He had in­ti­mated the fire sta­tion he worked at.

‘She con­tacted them. They had not heard of him. She con­fronted him.

‘He said he had not worked there re­cently. Dur­ing that tele­phone call, he be­came ag­gres­sive. She did not want fur­ther con­tact.

‘He called her re­peat­edly. He got a new num­ber ev­ery time. There were 300 sep­a­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

‘He for­warded to her pho­tos of him re­ceiv­ing a long-ser­vice fire ser­vice medal. A par­tic­u­lar medal had been dis­con­tin­ued in 1954.

‘He sent fur­ther pho­tographs of him in a fire sta­tion in a fire ser­vice uni­form.’

Sub­se­quently she learned, Mr McGinty said, that a man had ar­rived at the fire sta­tion ‘stat­ing he had ter­mi­nal can­cer, he had three months to live, and one of his dy­ing wishes was to dress as a fire­man and get a photo taken’.

De­fence agent Ed­ward Thorn­ton said: ‘He has never been in trou­ble be­fore. This shows the Wal­ter Mitty sit­u­a­tion he got him­self in­volved in.

‘It was a dat­ing web­site. He had never ex­pected to be in this re­la­tion­ship. He got him­self trapped in a web of lies and de­ceits. He could not cope with the break­down of it. Mr Walsh now ac­cepts the re­la­tion­ship is at an end.’

Sher­iff John Her­ald told Walsh: ‘Your be­hav­iour quite clearly mer­its a cus­to­dial sen­tence. The anx­i­ety you caused the com­plainer can­not be es­ti­mated.’

He im­posed a com­mu­nity pay­back or­der of 150 hours of un­paid work, and a su­per­vi­sion or­der for two years.

Philip Walsh also lied about be­ing a fire­fighter.

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