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Home Canterbury News Article
A gun crook nicknamed Hippy Jim has appeared in court - two months after trying to swerve justice by pretending to be dead.
Scruffy James Mete, 51, had forged a letter claiming to have passed on when he was due in the dock for skipping community service.
But a judge saw through the amateurish ploy and jailed him in his absence - sparking a police hunt for the "dead man".
After two months on the run and reported sightings in Wales, Mete was eventually tracked down to Pluckley - where he was arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning.
He appeared at Canterbury Crown Court, wearing a dirty blue pullover and sporting an unkempt beard and long grey hair.
The court heard that in 2011, Mete had admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition when police raided his Chartham home. The weapon was discovered next to his bed.
In February 2012, he admitted two weapons charges and received a 12-month jail sentence - suspended for two years - and 200 hours of community service.
When he failed to show up for the community work, the Probation Service issued breach proceedings requiring him to appear before the judge again to explain why he had not done the work.
But Mete chose not to attend, instead sending a document saying James Mete's estate was now being handled by a "General Executor".
"Probation wrote back to that address requesting a death certificate for Mr Mete. They received a letter back asking why it was required..." - Thaiza Khan, Probation Service
However, astute probation bosses were suspicious because the letter was full of legal nonsense - and instead demanded a death certificate.
Checks were made with the Registrar of Births and Deaths and there was none recorded for a James Mete, of Larky Wood Farm, Cockering Road.
And the final clue Hippy Jim was alive was when he responded to the probation letter, saying he did not think he needed to send a certificate proving his death.
Thaiza Khan, for the Probation Service, said: "Probation wrote back to that address requesting a death certificate for Mr Mete. They received a letter back asking why it was required."
Mete arrived for his five-minute hearing to be told officially he now has to begin his one-year jail sentence.
Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl said if Mete wanted to appeal the sentence he would have to formerly instruct lawyers and contact the Court of Appeal.
He told him: "This is just a mention hearing. Mr Mete, downstairs please. Thank you."
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