‘Walter Mitty’ lied about having cancer
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.