Home raided, military items seized
A MAN who claimed he taught Australia's Victoria Cross winner Ben Roberts-Smith, to shoot a rifle has been charged for impersonating a returned serviceman in regional Queensland.
Kenneth Franks - aka Kenneth Ellis - will appear in the Goondiwindi Magistrates Court today after his house was raided and a host of military paraphernalia was seized by police.
He was charged with falsely representing to be a returned soldier, sailor or airman and improper use of service decorations.
Locals said the 49-year-old moved to the area about two years' ago and showed up to this year's ANZAC Day dawn service wearing about 10 medals on his chest, claiming he was an ex-SAS soldier.
Goondiwindi Returned and Services League vice president Bill Brasington said Franks originally came to the attention of the branch when he visited ANZAC badge-sellers on the street, wearing a Special Air Service Regiment badge on his hat.
"He said he was an SAS fella and had been deployed everywhere, everywhere overseas -- you name it, but he said it was all a secret," he said.
"He said he taught Ben Roberts-Smith how to shoot his rifle.
"Then he showed up at the dawn service this year and he had medals from Bosnia and a US valor medal, which was the second-highest decoration."
Mr Brasington claimed the RSL branch made inquiries and found the military number Franks had given was not listed and there was no record anywhere of the man in the national military.
He said Franks had also shown him several weapons including a minigun, a .50-calibre sniper rifle and about 10 pistols.
It is believed the 49-year-old also went to the local men's shed and spoke about the defence force.
"When he said SAS you sort of look up to them because it's a really top ladder regiment," he said.
Criminal defence lawyer and Iraq and East Timor veteran Dave Garratt said serious penalties could be imposed for those who commit military fraud, including up to six months' jail for falsely representing a soldier.
"It detracts from real veterans and is extremely disrespectful to the men and women who have legitimately served their country," he said.