A CONMAN who faked his own death and fled to Thailand to avoid being caught has been jailed.
Stephen Kellaway and his wife, Nelli, scammed Hammersmith and Fulham Council out of almost £15,000 while living in Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush.
While under investigation in 2008, the couple travelled to Russia – where Nelli had her breasts enlarged and Stephen, 53, is thought to have faked his own death by bribing a mortuary worker to plant his passport on the body of a tramp.
Nelli was arrested on the day that she flew back to the UK carrying what she claimed were her husband’s cremated remains in an urn.
She was later convicted of fraud and money laundering but escaped with a suspended sentence.
Stephen Kellaway made his way to Thailand using a passport he allegedly secured using the birth certificate of a dead child.
After two years on the run, he was tracked to an airport in Bangkok in 2011 where he had been sleeping rough.
Kellaway handed himself into the Thai authorities and was detained and flown back to London in December, when he was charged with benefit and identity fraud.
He admitted four charges at Harrow Crown Court on February 16 and was sentenced to 32 months in prison at Croydon Crown Court today.
The council’s residents’ services leader, Greg Smith, said: “This rogue went to extraordinary lengths to avoid detection.
“This case shows that wherever you flee to you will eventually be tracked down and made to pay for your crimes. We will be doing everything we can to seize this man’s assets.”
The pair’s scam originally came to light after Stephen Kellaway submitted a claim for housing and council tax benefit in March 2008.
Among several offences, he did not mention rental income from a property in Camden, or nearly £200,000 he and his wife had in savings. He also said he was a single parent when he was actually living with his wife.
He also failed to state that Nelli had more than £80,000 cash in undeclared bank accounts.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council also prosecuted on behalf of Richmond Council, from whom Kellaway swindled £28,000 while living in that borough.
Since her conviction, Nelli Kellaway has been made to pay back £55,000 of defrauded money.