Let me introduce you to Steven Houston, or Steve as he likes to be called. Steve is the sort of guy you really don’t want to meet and certainly not trust with your money or possessions. He is a conman.
Six years ago a dear friend of mine was duped by him for over £1,200 plus personal items including a Laptop, half a freezer of her home produced lamb and two expensive sheep skins.
What follows is a piece I wrote for my newspaper in December 2008, but was never allowed to publish. I was told by an inexperienced boss that the story was ‘unsafe’.
That didn’t stop either the Scottish national The Sunday Mail or the Macclesfield Express from publishing it the following week. So this reload has been a long time coming!
A TOP brass RAF officer who stood side by side with veterans at a Remembrance Day service in Wrexham last month is an imposter with a long string of similar deceptions.
Self-proclaimed Air Commodore Steven Houston, 49, donned a UN blue beret, and badges which suggested he served in Afghanistan, and read the service and took the salute at the Remembrance Service in Coedpoeth on Sunday 10 November.
He also lay a poppy wreath with a UN logo at the village’s war memorial.
But, Houston is a confidence trickster who has been sacked from a number of positions in the catering industry and quit a similar job at Chester Zoo just prior to the service.
Houston, who has a home address in West Yorkshire, had been staying in lodgings in Coedpoeth during October and November, where he conned his landlady out of more than £1,200.
A year ago he was sacked as general manager of the Moorpark House Hotel in Kilbirnie, Ayshire in Scotland.
Scottish veterans were suspicious when he turned up to take the salute at the war memorial in Stevenston on Sunday 11 November, 2007. A year earlier he had pulled the same trick at his home village of South Kirkby.
Houston’s phoney medals at Stevenston, South Kirkby and Coedpoeth included the V-shaped Legion badge commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
He also sported a little enamel wing on his jacket, but the proper RAF emblem is an eagle with a crown.
Houston wore a UN beret with a cloth badge worn by officers. He also sported an ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) badge suggesting he had served with NATO in Afghanistan.
Houston bragged openly that he had served in the Falklands, both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Bosnia and claimed he was also part of an elite group who accompanied Princess Diana’s body back from Paris in 1997.
He even handed out bogus business cards with a UN logo and his fake rank of Air Commodore upon them.
But Houston only served a short stint in the RAF in the 1980s and never progressed beyond the ordinary ranks in the catering corps.
Ian Evans, landlord of the Golden Lion in Coedpoeth and a former soldier with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, said a dozen ex-servicemen accompanied Houston back to his pub for “a few drinks” following this year’s service.
“He wasted no time in boasting about who he was, what he’d done and where he’d been, even before we had our first drink,” said Ian.
“But we immediately became suspicious and started asking him questions he could not answer and then we realised he was an imposter.
“It is an absolute disgrace that someone like him can impersonate a senior officer when we are remembering so many genuine servicemen who lost their lives.”
Sean Griffiths, a former Regimental Sergeant Major with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers was also at the Remembrance Service.
“I didn’t speak with him, but knew he wasn’t ex RAF immediately when I saw the condition of his shoes,” he said.
“The RAF are notoriously well groomed and this guy wasn’t, he was like a tramp.
“I am disgusted he conned the British Legion in this way.”
Mark Edmonds, landlord of the New Inn in Coedpoeth, said Houston befriended him and his regulars for the six weeks he lived near the village.
“On the surface he was a nice chap, but we soon saw through him and underneath he was a deceitful, conniving and scheming man. He even started paying his tab with meat and sheep skins he had stolen from his landlady,” he said. “He needs sorting out and stopping.”
Back in his home village Eddie Robinson, president of the South Kirkby British Legion, said: “I didn’t know he was an imposter until last week. It was quite a shock because he seemed very genuine. He has been into the club since playing pool. He said he had been away on UN business.”
The RAF confirmed that following an investigation, no-one by the name of Steven Houston had ever reached Air Commodore or any similar rank.
A spokeswoman for the UN also confirmed that Houston has no right to wear the uniform or a blue officer’s beret, and that impersonating a UN officer is a serious criminal offence.
A spokesman for the British Legion said: “He is an imposter and his sheer presence at Remembrance services throughout the UK is an insult to all those who gave their lives for us and who we remember.”
When door-stepped at his home by a reporter, a man in dressing gown answered, looked away and said: “Mr Houston doesn’t live here,” before slamming the door closed.