Psychologist Stephen Kellaway to be sentenced for fraud; faked own death

March 7, 2012

A benefits cheat who faked his own death and spent two years on the run after swindling £43,000 to pay for his wife’s breast enlargements is facing jail after being extradited from Thailand.

Psychologist Stephen Kellaway, 54, who earned £100,000 a year from his counselling service as well as illegally claiming housing benefits on a property portfolio worth £1 million, was caught sleeping rough at an airport in Bangkok.   

The father-of-two is due to be sentenced tomorrow at Croydon crown court after he was brought back to the UK and pleaded guilty to four charges of benefit fraud and identity fraud.

Kellaway was found travelling on a false Irish passport, which he obtained using the identity of a boy who died aged seven, after faking his own death in 2008 to avoid jail for the benefit fraud.   

His wife Nelli, 43, claimed Kellaway died on a family trip with her back to her native Russia where she underwent breast enlargement surgery. 

She returned to the UK carrying a fake death certificate and an urn which she claimed contained her husband’s ashes but was arrested. She was convicted of three counts of fraud and two counts of money laundering in 2010 but got a two-year suspended sentence after claiming her “abusive” husband coerced her.

It was not known that her husband was still alive until his elderly parents told how he had visited them at their home in Brighton three times in 2009 — a year after his “death”. His stepmother Jenny said later: “Stephen has done a wicked thing. Faking his own death is unforgivable.”

When Kellaway was tracked down in Bangkok by reporters last year he admitted: “I’ve been lying about who I am for too long. It is a life of constant anxiety and uncertainty. Parts of my life on the run were very James Bond, but parts were also very squalid, and I wouldn’t recommend what I have done.”

Kellaway’s original plan was for his wife to collect a £2 million life insurance payout and for him to be reunited with her and their two young children abroad. But the scam had to be abandoned after it was uncovered by benefit fraud investigators.

At the time of his deportation back to Britain in December Kellaway was living in fear of being jailed in Thailand for overstaying his visa, after losing his job teaching English to schoolchildren. 

Kellaway married Nelli, his third wife, in 1997. They bought six houses and flats on which they fraudulently claimed benefits while sending their children to private school.

Greg Smith, a councillor with Hammersmith and Fulham council, who paid the benefits, said: “You can run but you cannot hide. No matter what you do, if you commit benefit fraud you will eventually get busted. Wherever you flee to you will be tracked down and made to pay for your crimes. We will be doing everything we can to seize this man’s assets.”

Source: Miranda Bryant and Rashid Razaq, "Swindler faked death in £43,000 scam to give his wife bigger breasts," London Evening Standard, March 7, 2012.


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