British 'dead man' caught in Australia

3rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British man who allegedly faked his own death and made off with the life insurance payout has been arrested in Australia, police said Thursday.

Hugo Jose Sanchez, 47, also known as Alfredo, was taken into Australian Federal Police custody overnight in Sydney, the force said, ending a six-year manhunt.

Ecuadorian-born Sanchez and his wife Sophie allegedly faked his death to claim more than one million pounds ($1.6 million) in life insurance in 2005, but the plot reportedly unravelled after his fingerprints were found on his own death certificate.

She was arrested after returning to Britain for her sister's wedding last September and was sentenced to two years in jail over the scheme.

The pair are not the first Britons to try such a scam -- former teacher John Darwin made international headlines after faking his disappearance in a canoe off Hartlepool in 2002 so his wife Anne could claim his life insurance.

Darwin turned up alive in 2007, five years after his alleged death and after the couple purchased property in Panama. They were each sentenced to six years' imprisonment in 2008.

In perhaps Britain's best-known faked death, MP and former government minister John Stonehouse, later revealed to have been a Communist spy, left a heap of his clothes on a Miami beach in 1974.

He was discovered in Australia and arrested on Christmas Eve that year by police who ordered him to drop his pants, believing he could be another missing Briton, Lord Lucan, who had a large scar on his inner thigh.

Stonehouse was sentenced to seven years' jail but only served part of his term after suffering three heart attacks.

Police refused to comment on media reports that Sanchez was facing extradition to Britain to face fraud charges, saying it was now a matter for Sydney's Central Local Court, where he was due to appear later Thursday.

© 2011 AFP

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