Twitter's fake riots police officer Ellis Ward is jailed
A FANTASIST who blogged about his experiences as a police officer during last summer's London riots was yesterday jailed for five years.
Ellis Ward, 29, gained a massive following with his postings about life as a Metropolitan police inspector on the streets of London.
His musings on Twitter – as @inspectorwinter – were followed up by national newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph, which paid him £600 for a column.
Ward also posed as an Army major who had been injured in Iraq, and had an impressive array of uniforms and identity cards, and used his aliases to dupe three unsuspecting women out of £12,000.
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Ward, of Bishop's Cleeve, admitted 18 charges of fraud at Winchester Crown Court.
Judge Peter Ralls QC told him: "You engaged yourself in a deception of quite staggering complexity. You lived a complete lie."
Ward was wanted by Gloucestershire police for fraud in 2009, but was released from a nine-month prison sentence before officers spoke to him and remained on the run until February.
Investigators found that as well as posing as a police officer, he also claimed to be a major in the Royal Military Police, and while he had lived in Ware, Hertfordshire, had claimed to be called Ethan Winchcombe.
Daniel Higgins, defending, said Ward wished to apologise to all the people he had conned.
He said Ward felt excluded from society and did not believe he had an identity as he was without a birth certificate or driving licence.
"Ellis Ward never had a father in his life and his mother was an alcoholic who died in 2004," he said.
"He told a psychiatrist that he wanted to have a real life, job and friends. In his mind he is somebody who does not exist."
Nikki Haywood, district crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex, said Ward was a "professional conman", adding: "One of his biggest lies was claiming that he was a Metropolitan Police inspector involved in the London disorders last August, and he set up a Twitter page, which attracted 3,000 followers in this persona.
"He also gave interviews of his purported involvement in the disorders on television and to national papers, one of which paid Ward for his stories.
"Like any good conman, he carefully prepared his stories, making sure that they were credible to his victims."