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Jail term cut for man who stole baby identity

A mystery man jailed for assuming identity of a dead baby over 20 years ago - won an appeal to have his sentence reduced.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 12:48 IST

A mystery man jailed for assuming the identity of a dead baby over 20 years ago -- a ploy made famous by the Frederick Forsyth novel "The Day of the Jackal" -- won an appeal on Friday to have his sentence reduced.

London's Court of Appeal cut from 21 to nine months the sentence imposed on the 43-year old who appeared in court under his assumed identity of Christopher Buckingham.

Buckingham had on occasion passed himself off as an aristocrat, Lord Buckingham, although the title had been extinct for hundreds of years.

Buckingham, from Northamptonshire, whose true identity is still not known, had admitted not telling the truth for the purpose of obtaining a passport at his original trial in November last year.

On Friday, the Appeal Court ruled that the 21-month sentence was "manifestly excessive."

Buckingham was jailed at Canterbury Crown Court after the jury had been told that he had carried out a "wholesale identity theft" taking the identity of nine-month-old Christopher Edward Buckingham.

The baby, who was born in south London in 1962, had died in an accident at Bognor Regis.

Having taken the name, Buckingham the man had then used it for 23 years. He still refuses to reveal his true identity and his ex-wife has said she doesn't know who he really is.

The secret life of the man who worked as an IT security consultant in Switzerland started to unravel last January when British immigration officers checked his passport in Calais, France.

Officers found it had been cancelled two years earlier after the Passport Office had discovered during a routine trawl there was an exact match with the Register of Deaths.

False documents, including a Swiss passport and headed notepaper bearing a coat of arms last used by the Duke of Buckingham in the 1700s, were also discovered in his car.

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 12:48 IST