A conman was jailed for four-and-a-half years today after he tricked his way into Windsor Castle posing as a senior policeman escorting close friends of Princes William and Harry.
Power-mad serial fantasist Michael Hammond – whose “Walter Mitty” lifestyle echoed the screen trickster in Catch Me If You Can – was waved through the Henry VIII gate and spent more than an hour inside the grounds.
Although no Royals were at home during the incident last May, the Queen had been in residence hours earlier.
Coming just 12 days after an extensive review of royal security, the embarrassing breach sparked a major scare, London's Isleworth Crown Court heard.
Hammond, of Manchester Road, Cubitt Town, east London, pleaded guilty to one count of being a public nuisance – a charge embracing 11 police officer impersonations and one occasion of wasting police time.
They saw the 36-year-old leading Metropolitan officers on a string of wild goose chases as he made hoax calls for assistance and reported sighting armed Operation Trident criminals and murder suspects.
Innocent members of the public were searched at gunpoint and armed emergency units despatched several times.
During one incident, Hammond was even given a police escort when he called City of London Police pretending he was a doctor on his way to perform life-saving surgery on a child. Then he cheekily called next day to thank them and say the operation had been a success.
But the accomplished liar – who has previously posed as a millionaire playboy, pretended to have dated singer Dannii Minogue and gone out with glamour model Jordan, and claimed to be friends with the Prince of Wales, his sons and the Duke of York – was really a debt-ridden decorator’s son.
Today, the tall, dark-haired trickster, who often used the adopted double-barrelled name Edwards-Hammond as camouflage, took refuge behind an air of studied indifference as Judge Richard McGregor-Johnson delivered a broadside of scathing remarks.
The judge said: "You have pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance. That is old-fashioned wording which obscures far more serious conduct than simply making a nuisance of yourself.
“The incident that captured the public eye is no doubt the occasion when you lied your way into Windsor Castle.
“With all the potential security ramifications, that was serious enough. However, the impact on innocent members of the public that your attention-seeking behaviour causes was far greater,” he said.
Hammond, dressed all in blue – pinstripe suit, checked shirt and patterned tie - remained impassive as the judge continued: “I have in mind those incidents where you caused police officers, including armed officers, to stop and search innocent people.
“On three occasions innocent people were stopped at gunpoint because of what you said and pretended to be.
“Quite apart from the stress and fear that must have caused those people, you created the risk of something much worse.
“You could not possibly know how those being searched would behave or react and however well trained and disciplined armed officers are, carrying and/or producing loaded weapons in such circumstances inevitably carries with it the risk that an action or reaction could be misunderstood with tragic consequences.
“Fortunately that didn’t happen, but you had no way of knowing whether that might or not.”