I’ve had an idea for a film, or maybe a TV drama - I think it’s gonna be a cracker.  This is the basic premise :

Imagine you are a guy, in a bit of a humdrum job doing the same old same old day in, day out - perhaps a civil servant working in an office, or a prison officer or something.

Away from work you want to lead a different life so you spend your cash a bit too liberally and end up in a little bit of debt.  You don’t want to curb your spending to pay off the debt, so the level of debt spirals out of control.  The depression this brings on, leads to more spending and so it goes on.

You come to your senses and start looking for a way out.  You enjoy active sports, and one day when you are out on your bike, or out for a run, or out for a paddle in your canoe, you hit upon a solution - the easiest way to gain a large sum of money in one fell swoop is either to win the lottery or to have a claim on an insurance policy.

You rush home to check on your policy documents and it becomes clear that the only way you can raise enough money this to claim on the life insurance - which means you have to die.  Obviously you aren’t going to see the benefit of clearing your debt if you actually end up dead before it’s all paid off so that idea doesn’t seem so good any more.

Then you think again, what if you could fool the insurance people into thinking you are dead so they pay out when you are actually still alive?

A bit of thought and a lot of preparatory work later and you are all set.

You arrange for witnesses to see you set sail in your canoe one morning so that when you don’t return that night everyone thinks they know where to look for you.

A search of the surrounding sea and coastline fails to find a body and you are eventually assumed dead and the insurance policy pays out - debts cleared, mission accomplished.

In the meantime, you have bought a bedsit next door to the family home where your wife still lives.  You knock through the dividing wall and hide the connecting hole with a cupboard - then if you are seeing your wife and a visitor arrives you can quickly and quietly leave the building without stepping outside and arousing suspicion.

Everything is going to plan, you have even obtained false documents and grown a beard so there is no chance this can all go wrong.

You get a bit bored of the cloak and dagger routine so you and your wife decide the only way forward is for you both to move abroad and so you set off on a journey to discover somewhere nice to settle.  On a trip to Panama, you decide that as no-one knows you over there it is safe to remove the beard and pose for a photograph with the nice estate agent who is selling you an apartment.

Then disaster strikes - someone has tipped off the police back home that you might not be dead after all.

Panic!

What to do?  Wait on the coppers coming knocking at the door, or make a pre-emptive strike and go to them yourself willingly?  Seems a bit silly to hand yourself in, but perhaps they will look kindly on someone who is being “honest”.

So it’s back to Britain and off you trot to the local police station - walking in with the words “Hello, I hope you can help me - I think I’m a missing person.”

After an interrogation, you are sure you have them convinced that you can’t remember a thing for the past 5 years and that they are all taking part in a real life miracle story - they are going to be famous, write books about you and make a fortune.

Or maybe not - the next day you are arrested for being a complete numpty, deception, fraud and for just being completely stupid.

Had someone walked into a film producer’s office and outlined the story above he would have been laughed out of town - it’s quite possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.  How could anyone expect to get away with it?

The strangest thing is that it’s all true - well apart from some of the charges I added on at the end.

The guy’s wife is also being charged.  It would appear she genuinely didn’t know he was going to do this and really thought he was dead until he turned up almost a year later.  He is alleged to have threatened to drag her down with him if she went to the court (such a charmer), so she kept quiet, cashed in the life insurance and basically went along with whatever he wanted after that.

You have to feel sorry for their kids though - they have two grown boys who the police believe genuinely thought their dad was dead this whole time.  How could the dad do that to his sons - and how could their mother go along with it?

More facts about the whole thing are coming to light every day so I’m really looking forward to following this right up to the court case.