Chris Dawn-Manuel touched hearts with his story of the orphaned teenager "crippled by grief and guilt" because he alone survived the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami while his family perished on the Indian coast.
He was the child left to beg on the streets of Chennai – bullied, branded by gang violence and nurtured on crime – yet he endured for years to scrounge an existence.
Dawn-Manuel even saved enough money to educate himself and complete a degree in India and, from 2010 in Australia on a student visa, achieve another at Monash University.
But this uplifting tale of ruin to recovery has now been exposed by diligent police as a pack of lies.
Not only are his parents and brother alive, but he participated in two sham marriages in Melbourne – with a third ceremony proposed – ran an illegal brothel in South Yarra and forged a psychiatric report for an earlier court appearance.Fortunately no references to long-distance treks through the snow accompanied by wolves.
The Age reports that Dawn-Manuel referred to his supposed history in pleading guilty to "sophisticated deception and false identity charges involving $660,000".
The first doubts about its authenticity emerged when prosecutor Temple Saville announced at the end of Mr Farrington's plea that investigators had material "contrary" to Dawn-Manuel's story.
Judge Gaynor declared she wanted the matter resolved and adjourned the hearing for investigation. When it resumed last week, and with lead investigator Senior Detective Simon Hunter's explosive new statement in her hands, Judge Gaynor exclaimed: "God bless my soft, little old heart."
"I was so sorry for him," she said of her first reaction to his early life. " ... come in, spinner", she added ruefully. "It's like a doorstopper novel ... it's amazing," Judge Gaynor said of the "complete and utter fraudster". ...
Detective Hunter stated that throughout the investigation by members of the Heidelberg crime investigation unit it was apparent Dawn-Manuel was "skilled in the art of deception" or "fabricating stories to suit his needs". Detective Hunter said it was "completely implausible" that as a beggar he finished school, attained a degree in India and then came to Australia to undertake another at Monash.
Instead, he had been "raised in a well-off and respected family", given a good education and the chance to study in Australia but voluntarily committed crimes for his own benefit.
He had shown no remorse for his actions and "continues to fabricate lies and stories to diminish his responsibility and accountability".Dawn-Manuel pleaded guilty to three charges of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, three of attempting to do so and one of possessing identity information. The Crown argued that during 2012 and 2013 he
created an identity fraud scam by obtaining information, partly through Optus mobile phone application contracts, which held names, addresses, employment details and contact phone numbers. He used this information to apply for credit cards online through GE Capital Finance, NAB and ANZ by including accurate personal details of the "applicants", created fictitious email addresses and had the credit cards and PINs mailed to vacant rental properties where he collected them.He is reported to have obtained 45 credit facilities with a combined value of $660,500 and tried to get more with a total value of $858,999. He used the fake authority to buy goods and recruited others as "shoppers" to buy for him. A police search of his home found 48 credit cards and 65 fake driver's licences in various names with pictures attached of him or of the "shoppers".