How is this, I personally find it despicable, pretending to be a digger, a prisoner of war even, and claiming war veterans money for decades! He was even bloody president of the Ex POW association of Australia. Obviously no checks are made on these greedy rorting cowards. I feel sorry for any genuine digger who ever came into contact with him.Pretending to be a brave soldier, giving stories and speeches to appreciative listeners. All a huge lie…A disgrace, and I don’t care if he is 40 or 110, it’s shameful to our soldiers…
AN elderly man has admitted in a Brisbane court he shamefully lied for decades about being a World War II prisoner of war and ripped off thousands of dollars in welfare payments.
Arthur “Rex” Crane, 84, pleaded guilty to defrauding the commonwealth and obtaining financial advantage by deception in the Brisbane District Court on Friday afternoon.
Crane claims he was captured by the Japanese and sent to work on the Thai-Burma Death Railway during WWII.
The court heard he had never served in the military.
The former president of the Ex-POW Association of Australia claimed $689,491 in commonwealth war pension and disability payments from 1988 to 2009.
The court heard he was not entitled to $464,409 of that amount.
Crown prosecutor Shane Hunter said had Crane not had a public profile, he might never have been caught.
There was community outrage when the fraud was uncovered.
A military historian investigated Crane in 2009 after he delivered a speech, which raised suspicions, at the POW War Memorial in Ballarat, Victoria.
The court heard Crane lied about being involved in a volunteer guerrilla force against the Japanese at the age of 15.
The court was told Crane had done extensive research on the history of POWs in the Pacific.
He claimed he was tortured, the soles of his feet beaten with bamboo, his stomach filled with uncooked rice, and crucified with four-inch nails.
The court heard he concocted a story about carrying his digger friend on his shoulders after he was bayoneted for spitting in the face of a Japanese soldier.
A 1941 high school report card proved Crane was in South Australia, at home with his family at the time.
The court was told Crane’s brother, tracked down in the US, also poured cold water over the claims.
Crane has paid back $50,000 and had deductions of $107 a fortnight taken out of his pension since the fraud was discovered, the court was told.
The court heard he would have to live to the ripe old age of 174 in order to pay back the full amount he defrauded.
Mr Hunter called for a four-year head sentence, with 12 months to be served. He said it was important that the sentence sent a strong message of deterrence.
Crane’s lawyer, Russ Clutterbuck, said his client wasn’t motivated by greed, but was continuing a ruse he created after befriending POWs in the 1960s.
Mr Clutterbuck said Crane wished to apologise to POWs, his family and the community. He said his client was remorseful and had been disowned by his step family and separated from his second wife of 32 years.
“He will serve out life in his own solitary confinement in prison or otherwise,” he said.
“He has become a prisoner in his own home. He has no friends. He is already being punished.”
The court heard Crane suffers from glaucoma, diabetes and heart disease, and has undergone prostate surgery.
Mr Clutterbuck asked that Crane be given a three-year head sentence and released on a $2,000 good behaviour bond.
Judge Marshall Irwin will hand down his sentence on December 21.
Crane was granted bail.