LONDON (AP) - There was something fishy about the obituary, and
now its author will be going to jail.
Authorities weren't deceived when Roger Atkins sent the
newspaper Fishing News his own obituary - apparently hoping that
its publication would persuade the government to stop pursuing him
for fishing offenses. He was sentenced to 2½ years in prison on
Thursday under his real name, Derek Atkins.
The court heard that the Marine and Fisheries Agency suspected
Atkins, operating as Roger, had been failing to log fishing trips
according to legal requirements. The agency was first told that
Atkins had moved to Holland, and then that he was dead. His
obituary was an attempt to provide written evidence to show he
actually had died, officials said.
"He was a quiet family man and will be deeply missed by his
family and friends," said the obituary published on June 22, 2007.
Atkins, 56, who used several aliases, pleaded guilty to five
charges of obtaining property by deception, attempting to pervert
the course of justice, 10 counts of fraud, failing to notify the
sex offenders' register of his name change, and 21 fisheries
charges brought by the Marine and Fisheries Agency.
A court in the city of Portsmouth heard that Atkins had 32
previous convictions for deception, sexual offenses and driving
"You are a lying, cunning, calculating fraudster - there's no
other description for you," Judge Ian Pearson told Atkins in
Portsmouth Crown Court.
Atkins' lawyer, Brian Sharman said his client had a drinking
problem, and any money gained by fraud was spent on alcohol.
"This man feels broken now. He has suffered some kind of angina
attack and he now looks down the barrel of being 60 and what has he
got? No wife, no reputation, just time in jail for pretending he
was dead," Sharman said. "Perhaps now he wishes he was."