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Jailed: liar who claimed he was a Japanese PoW to obtain a war pension

An 84-year-old man was jailed for four years in Australia for lying about being a prisoner of war in order to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in pension payouts.

But Judge Marshall Irwin of Brisbane District Court said Arthur Crane would be released after six months on a good behaviour bond.

Crane, who pleaded guilty to defrauding the Commonwealth, claimed he was captured and tortured by the Japanese during the Second World War, but in reality he had never served in the military.

Before his lies were uncovered last year, Crane claimed nearly Aus$690,000 (£440,000) in war pension and disability payments. He was not entitled to £297,500 of that amount and has been ordered to repay the money.

Judge Marshall Irwin said Crane's fraud showed scant regard to the real POWs and to the memory of those killed at the hands of their captors.

Sentencing him, Judge Irwin said he accepted Crane had lived in a fantasy world where he yearned to be considered a hero.

“The motivation for your deception was not greed but need in the sense of achieving and maintaining hero status,” he said.

“In perpetrating this fraud ... you have shown little respect for those injured and who died in service of their country.”

Crane was the national president of the Ex Prisoners of War Association until he was exposed as a fake in early 2009 following a speech he gave at a PoW memorial in Victoria.

Historian Lynette Silver, who had researched the Malaya guerrilla force Crane claimed to have been part of, was in the audience.

She began investigating him and found he had been at school in Adelaide at the time he claimed to have been held captive, brutalised and crucified by enemy soldiers in Malaya.

After being contacted by a journalist last year, Crane admitted he had never been a member of the military nor was he a war veteran. He said he had lied for so long that he had begun to believe his own story.

The court heard Crane's story began in the 1960s when he decided he wanted to be one of the PoWs he had met at a South Australian country pub.

He moved to Queensland where he met more PoWs and began claiming he was part of a volunteer force which fought behind enemy lines in guerrilla and sabotage operations.

Crane said he was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and survived the Burma-Thai railway and Singaporean punishment compound.

Crane's lies led to him breaking the law when, in 1988, fellow veterans urged him to apply for a service pension.

Commonwealth prosecutor Shane Hunter said Crane also applied for and drew a disability pension claiming he had a long list of war injuries.

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