Hero one week, villain the next

DAVID Jeffries Dickinson has gone from a hero to an identity thief within months.

He put his life on the line at 10.30pm on May 8 with two desperate but failed attempts to rescue his friend and neighbour Gary Dennis Levett, 54, from his blazing Chenery Street flat in Glenroy.

But when he was later helping the landlord to clean up after the fatal fire, he found the dead man’s driver’s licence and Medicare cards and later used them to seek a replacement licence in his friend’s name.

Dickinson, 53, of Chenery Street, yesterday pleaded guilty in Albury Local Court to dishonestly obtaining property by deception, goods in custody suspected of being stolen and attempting to obtain a driver’s licence by a false statement.

Magistrate Tony Murray asked Dickinson what had prompted him to commit such an unusual offence.

“Actually no excuse. No movement of brain cells,” Dickinson said.

His bid to obtain a licence in July failed when an alert Roads and Maritime Services employee noticed facial differences between pictures of Mr Levett and Dickinson and alerted the department’s investigation unit.

In the weeks after the fire, Dickinson had collected the dead man’s mail, including a termination notice of a residential tenancy agreement with the unit deemed uninhabitable because of the fire.

He went to the RMS Albury office on July 12 to replace the licence.

It had a circular burn around the nose area of the photograph on the licence, but other parts of the face were visible.

He signed Mr Levett’s name and produced three forms of identification.

But when an employee began processing his application, the department’s electronic link to Centrelink warned that the card holder was dead.

Dickinson said he was obviously not dead and he would sort out the issue with Centrelink after he got his licence.

He was photographed for the licence but the staff member became suspicious when she put photographs of Dickinson and Mr Levett side by side on her computer. She then called her manager.

Dickinson was told he could have a two-month paper licence but would have to produce more identification before getting a photo licence.

When arrested on October 10, he told police he had gone to RMS to tell it of his neighbour’s death and hand in the licence.

Mr Murray said Dickinson, who was treated for smoke inhalation after his rescue attempt, had made a serious attempt to save his friend.

“Your behaviour after is worthy of some condemnation,” he said when imposing fines of $600.

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