A serial fraudster whose crimes included conning an Ottery St Mary garage has been jailed.

Paul Watkins used a false name when he took an unroadworthy Land Rover to the Beacon Garage in Ottery in June 2019 and persuaded the owner to give him a courtesy car while the repairs were being done.

The garage became suspicious when they started receiving a string of parking tickets, but Watkins refused to return the courtesy car for almost five months.

He had also spun a web of lies about who was going to pay the £8,000 cost of fixing his Land Rover, claiming an insurance company would pay.

The garage owner stopped work when he realised Watkins was using a false name, but he had already run up a bill of £810, which was never paid.

In another fraud Watkins stole a friend’s identity and bought a £17,000 BMW in his name.

He intercepted the victim’s mail while house-sitting for him in Exeter and obtained all the details he needed of his driving licence and bank account to pose as him.

He bought the car from an online dealership on credit and the first the victim knew of the swindle was when he received details of the £480-a-month payments for which he had become liable, along with Watkins’s speeding tickets, which were in his name.

He called in the police who arrested Watkins.

Watkins is a serial conman who lived in Devonport until 2018 and was jailed at Plymouth Crown Court for frauds in 2010, 2012, and 2018, where he received a sentence of a single day for a £7,000 disability benefit fiddle.

He was living at Lady’s Mile in Dawlish Warren when he committed the new swindles in 2019 and 2020 but was also using the alias of David Welsh with an address in Wykes Road in Exeter.

He admitted five counts of fraud and was jailed for two years and a month by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

Mr Ian Graham, defending, said Watkins has serious health problems and has changed his way of life, staying out of trouble for three years. He said Watkins would benefit more from working with probation in the community than going to jail.