Clifton James Malcolm faced twelve charges of identity theft.
Clifton James Malcolm faced twelve charges of identity theft. Mike Knott

ID thief lives lie for years

A MAN who stole the identity of his former neighbour to obtain a driver’s licence for 14 years had committed a “baffling and bizarre” crime, a court was told.

Clifton James Malcolm, 54, of Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast, pleaded guilty yesterday in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to 12 charges of identity theft.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens said the crimes first started in 1996 when Malcolm used a former neighbour’s birth certificate to obtain a drivers licence.

The court heard the theft came to light when the victim received a notification from the State Penalties Enforcement Registry about unpaid fines related to traffic incidents.

But Sgt Stevens said the man had not held a driver’s licence since 1997, when he had suffered a stroke.

“A lot of the charges relate to him renewaing the licence and, in 2010, he was given $400 in fines when he produced the licence at a traffic crash,” Sgt Stevens said.

Sgt Stevens said Malcolm had used his daughter’s name to pretend he had a partner in his painting business.

The court was told Malcolm had also created a new identity when he thought he had been blacklisted by the Residential Tenancies Authority.

“He made up papers in order to rent a property,” Sgt Stevens said.

Sgt Stevens said he did not know why the man did not stop using the falsely obtained licence.

“The financial gain was not great,” he said.

Defence lawyer Matt Messenger when the identify theft began, Malcolm’s mother had just lost her battle with cancer.

“It’s quite a bizarre matter that he has continued this odd course of conduct,” he said.

“There is a line from Seinfeld – ‘if you believe it, it’s not really a lie’.”

Magistrate Jennifer Batts said the matter was “baffling and bizarre” considering the length of time the crimes were committed.

“I would not be opposed to a penalty at the higher end – the seriousness arrives at the number and length of time of the offence,” she said.

Ms Batts sentenced Malcolm to 12 months’ probation.

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