A Chartham man has been given a jail sentence by a judge – despite the court being told he is dead.
James Mete, 51, was summoned before Canterbury Crown Court yesterday for failing to turn up for community service.
But the courtroom was left stunned after Mete failed to show – but a letter from his "estate" did.
James Mete lived on Larky Wood Farm in Chartham
The two-page note – full of bizarre legal waffle – claimed to have been sent by "The General Executor" of "The estate of James Mete".
It said the estate of Mete, of Larky Wood Farm, Cockering Road, admitted he had been in breach of the court order.
But when the probation service requested a death certificate, none was sent and there is no record of any James Mete dying during the past year.
Now Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl has issued a warrant for the arrest of "the late" James Mete and imposed a 12-month jail sentence, which had been suspended for two years.
In 2011, Mete had admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition when police raided his home. The weapon was discovered next to his bed.
He then appeared at Canterbury Crown Court in February last year and admitted two weapons charges and received a suspended sentence and was ordered to do community service.
But when he failed to show up for the community work, the Probation Service issued breach proceedings requiring Mete to appear before the judge again to explain why he had not done the work.
Instead, the letter - together with a note from a Chartham doctor - arrived which confirmed Mete had been suffering "from a bad back".
Mukhtiar Sing, for the Probation Service, said a "straight forward" request had been made for a death certificate from the executor or trustees of the estate, but none has so far been forthcoming.
"The Probation Service has taken further steps contacting the Registrar of Births and Deaths and no such death has been registered of a James Mete within the past 12 months.
"That is why probation has brought about these breach proceedings and they request a warrant for his arrest."
The judge said "given the nature of the letter" it was understandable the authorities were "sceptical".
He said: "My inclination is that the 12-month prison sentence should be activated and a warrant not backed for bail be issued at the same time.
"That means if the police see him walking around they can arrest him for absenting himself from court."
The judge said he would not comment further because of possible legal proceedings which might follow if the letter was proved to be forged.
The "dead" Mete was also ordered to pay £50 probation costs for the hearing.
Stories you might have missed