Irish property developer Kevin McGeever – who claimed to have been kidnapped and held hostage for eight months before being released close to the border – has admitted he made the story up.
The 68-year-old former tycoon confessed to gardai that he stayed in an isolated cottage in the "west of Ireland" where he purposely lost weight and gave himself a dishevelled appearance to back up his bizarre abduction ruse.
A Garda source said last night: "He apparently has a habit of going off and staying by himself in an isolated location for years. He would often disappear for months at a time. He said he likes the solitude."
The Garda team who investigated Mr McGeever's kidnap story have identified the house where he spent most of his eight-month "ordeal" and were due to visit it yesterday.
He originally claimed that he was abducted by armed men last May and held in a steel container until his release in January.
But gardai soon began to have doubts. Last Thursday, they arrested Mr McGeever (below) and brought him to Gort station in Co Galway for questioning on suspicion of wasting police time.
He continued to insist his story was true until he came clean before he was due to be released from custody on Friday night.
He said he concocted the elaborate ruse because he was under intense financial pressure from investors who wanted their money back.
Mr McGeever told officers that he believed the people pursuing him would back off when he re-emerged as a kidnap victim for fear that they would be implicated as possible suspects.
The former high-flyer, whose international property business collapsed owing millions to investors, is facing a potential jail term of between 12 months and five years for wasting Garda time.
Mr McGeever's 'ordeal' was reported around the world after he was found rambling on a country road in Co Leitrim in January.
A file based on the evidence gathered by detectives and Mr McGeever's admissions will be forwarded to the Irish DPP recommending that he be charged under Section 12 of the Criminal Law Act 1976, which makes it an offence to waste police time.