Christopher turner lived in a £1,000-a-month flat under a mile from where he was caught begging
A beggar who pretended he was homeless for five years when in reality he was living on benefits near a wealthy London suburb tried to justify his actions by claiming begging was his '9-5 job'.
Christopher Turner, 51, was found guilty of fraud after locals in Surbiton, South West London, complained that his bedraggled dog and handwritten cardboard signs were fakes.
Turner's favourite pitch was outside an HSBC bank where he would use an array of signs to trick tourists and residents.
But in reality, Turner was living in a £1,000-a-month flat just a mile from his begging patch as well as claiming housing benefit and financial assistance, police said.
Eamonn Holmes, the television presenter, Ed Davey MP and Julian Clary, the comedian, are among those with links to the suburb.
At the height of his begging exploits, the 51 year-old was thought to have been making up to £80 a day in addition to his benefits.
Some of his fake signs bared a Christian cross and pleaded for help to buy food. 'Could you please help - I would be very grateful - thank you. God bless,' one read. Others had the star of David scrawled onto the top corner.
It is believed he used the dog, which is of an unknown breed, to garner sympathy and maximise his profits.
Turner was eventually arrested by police in October this year and charged with begging and fraud. He admitted all charges and was convicted last week at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court.