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Darlington beggar apes rugby player by using fake blood to feign injury
A BEGGAR borrowed a trick from disgraced rugby player Tom Williams - by carrying around fake blood to feign injury.
Andrew Lawson tried to trick people into believing he had been attacked and needed money to get home or to hospital.
He approached unsuspecting shoppers in Darlington, holding tissue to his bloodied face and claiming to have been mugged.
Once, he hid something in his mouth to make it look as though his cheek was swollen, and later claimed to have a broken nose.
At least six times, Lawson struck with the fake blood scam used by Williams in a match between Harlequins and Leinster.
A syringe of red fluid was hidden behind the 33-year-old's left ear when he was arrested in February for the spate of cons.
Teesside Crown Court that he refused to take money from one woman because all she could offer was several pound in coppers.
He told one would-be victim, who hesitated about handing over her cash: "If you're not going to help, stop wasting my time."
Ian West, mitigating, told the court: "It is called, by law, fraud, but it is blagging people out of money by pretending to be injured.
"For the last three years, he had effectively been homeless, sleeping in shop doorways and trying to eke out a living begging."
Lawson was jailed for six months after admitting four charges of fraud and one of failing to comply with the sex offenders register.
The court heard that he had to tell police of his whereabouts as a condition of a sentence imposed in 2010 for an offence of exposure.
Lawson repeatedly interrupted yesterday's proceedings on a prison video-link to insist his conviction was a "misunderstanding".
He said he had simply urinated in the street after a night out, and Mr West said he was "resentful" about the ramifications.
At one point, the long-haired scrounger said: "I wish I'd never come here. I want to go. I don't feel well, at all. It's humiliating."
The court heard that Lawson has 145 offences on his record, including dishonesty and breaches of an anti-social behaviour order.
It is thought the chief constable of Durham Police Mike Barton will seek another Asbo to stop him begging in the streets.
Judge Howard Crowson told him: "Perhaps in the future, you will do what the law requires, otherwise, I'm afraid, we may meet again."