Simon Hayes left Roger Curry with paramedics outside Hereford Hospital, claiming he had found the 78-year-old dementia sufferer in a country lane
A fantasist who dumped an American friend’s father in an NHS hospital to help him dodge US medical bills was jailed yesterday after the case of the unknown identity of the pensioner was solved by a amateur internet sleuth.
Simon Hayes left Roger Curry with paramedics outside Hereford Hospital, claiming he had found the 78-year-old dementia sufferer in a country lane.
And the pensioner’s identity went unknown for months until Debbie Cocker, 48, from Manchester, spotted a picture in a 1950s American school year book of an ‘Earl Roger Curry’.
Noting a striking resemblance between the pensioner and the teenager photographed she sent the picture to the BBC’s panorama team who traced the Curry family to Whittier in Los Angeles County.
Hayes, who was dressed in a bogus Army uniform when he left Mr Curry in Hereford, refused to give his own name, saying it was a security risk because he was working at the SAS base in the city.
The pensioner’s identity went unknown for months until Debbie Cocker, 48, from Manchester, spotted a picture in a 1950s American school year book of an ‘Earl Roger Curry’
Police spent four months trying to identify ‘Credenhill Man’ before the internet sleuthing skills of a charity worker uncovered his background in California. Pictured, A BBC panorama investigation tried to discover his identity
The 53-year-old had stripped Mr Curry of his passport and other papers and dressed him in British clothing to further obscure his identity. Hospital staff could not work out who their patient was and Mr Curry spoke his name just once – after he was moved to a care home in the nearby village of Credenhill.
Police spent four months trying to identify ‘Credenhill Man’ before the internet sleuthing skills of Ms Cocker uncovered his background in California.
Mr Curry, who went by his middle name Roger, spent nine months in the Credenhill care home, paid for by the taxpayer, following the stint in Hereford County Hospital which cost the NHS £20,000.
He was safely returned to the US in 2016 and is now believed to be in a care home in Long Beach.
Worcester Crown Court was told that Hayes concocted the cruel plan in 2015 with Mr Curry’s son Kevin. The pair had become best friends while sharing a flat in Los Angeles before Hayes was deported in 2013 for drink-driving.
Simon Davis QC, prosecuting, said Hayes arranged to meet Kevin along with his father and mother Mary-Jo at Gatwick, before driving Mr Curry the 150 miles to Hereford.
Roger Curry in his 1958 high school yearbook. The striking resemblance between this photo and Mr Curry led to the discovery of the dementia sufferer’s identity
Kevin Curry with his mother Mary Jo Curry. Hayes joined Kevin and his mother on a holiday to France and Denmark before the Americans flew home
Mr Davis said: ‘The defendant was part of a plan to bring Roger from the US and dump him in Hereford, abandoning him so he could receive care from local healthcare providers. It was clearly planned.’
Hayes then joined Kevin and his mother on a holiday to France and Denmark before the Americans flew home.
Jailing Hayes for two-and-a-half years yesterday, Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC said the deception had wasted ‘time and energy and public resources’.
Hayes ran a race driver fitness business and has boasted of being a physiotherapist for ex-F1 driver David Coulthard and of knowing team boss Frank Williams
He added: ‘I cannot find any case remotely similar to the facts of this case, curiously because there appears to be no apparent benefit to the defendant.’
Hayes, from Taunton in Somerset, was caught after he identified himself as the man who handed over Mr Curry to paramedics. The judge said that had he not contacted West Mercia Police there was ‘no certainty that he’d ever have been found’.
Mr Davis said: ‘He said he had been in the SBS and been in Hereford for a short while – but was unable to answer a simple question any serviceman would know, “what’s your Army number?”.’
Hayes’s barrister, Ashley Hendron, told the court: ‘It is possible he believes his own fantasy.’
Hayes ran a race driver fitness business and has boasted of being a physiotherapist for ex-F1 driver David Coulthard and of knowing team boss Frank Williams.
He admitted perverting the course of justice and a separate case of fraud in relation to a false character reference when he submitted three unsuccessful US visa applications.
He had claimed he was a hero with a Military Cross from the Gulf War.
The court was told that his son is under criminal investigation in California for elder abuse, fraud and kidnapping.