It’s one of the strangest TV-related crime capers – but it nearly came off.
A homeless man managed to get two nights in a country house pub hotel after claiming to be bespectacled documentary film maker, Louis Theroux. But he was rumbled after he called down to reception and asked for “some fags” to be sent to his room.
During his earlier trial, prosecuting counsel Emma Chetland told South Somerset Magistrates Court that the staff had become suspicious that Debenham used this word rather than “cigarettes”.
Allan Debenham, 39, had booked a room at the Duke of York pub in Shepton Beauchamp in Somerset in April this year, claiming he was the presenter. He even had staff phone a number for the BBC’s finance department, who he said would pay for his stay.
The same man later pretended to be Theroux’s personal assistant when he rang down to the bar and asked them to put two bottles of wine on his room tab. Staff only became suspicious when Debenham, once again pretending to be Theroux’s PA, asked for a further two bottles of sparkling wine and “some fags” to be taken to the room.
Pub staff phoned the BBC and realised they had been conned.
Debenham, 39, who pleaded guilty this month to two charges of making a false representation was also convicted of assaulting a former partner.
He was ordered to pay compensation of £165 to the pub and was made the subject of a restraining order not to contact his partner for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay her £100 in compensation and a £60 victim surcharge.
Magistrates did allow Debenham to address them personally, it was reported by the Press Association.
He said: “I would just like to say that these last six months have been absolute hell. It has been very difficult.
“I have significant difficulties with my alcohol use and I am getting help. People say I am doing well and I would like to continue that.
“All I can say is that I am very sorry for what I’ve done.”