Glasgow & West Scotland

'Dead' man who stole brother's identity found in Hawaii

Roy and Paul Woodhouse
Image caption Roy Woodhouse (left) spoke to his brother Paul for the first time in 49 years

A man who believed his brother was dead has discovered he is alive and has been using his identity for almost 50 years.

Paul Woodhouse, who lives near Oban, was told by his father that his half-brother Roy had died in South Africa.

However, it emerged the 69-year-old was being held at an immigration detention centre in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Mr Woodhouse, 62, learned his sibling had been using his identity since obtaining a passport in his name in the 1960s. He is now planning a reunion.

Mr Woodhouse, a married father of four, said although Roy was his half brother, he had always been part of the family.

He said the brothers' late father, Isaiah, had informed the family years ago that Roy, who spent his youth in and out of borstal for petty crimes before moving abroad, had died in South Africa.

"I was quite traumatised when I heard from my father that Roy had died because I had hoped that, where ever he was, he was still alive and that one day we would be able to meet up again," he said.

'Many questions'

Mr Woodhouse said he believed the family last had contact with his brother in 1967.

"I last remember him when he was 13 or 14 years of age, he used to be away at borstal and then come back. Then he took off and we didn't hear of him again until 1967," he said.

"I was just learning to drive and my first trip in my father's car was to Southampton Magistrates Court.

Image caption Roy Woodhouse pictured in 1967

"Roy was in court because he had stowed away on the Queen Mary and got arrested in New York harbour. I remember he went to Winchester Prison."

Mr Woodhouse said it must have been after his release from prison that Roy began using his identity, to get a passport to go abroad again.

He had presumed Roy had been dead for decades until he received a call from the immigration detention centre in Honolulu last week.

Roy was detained last year and decided to tell officials he had been using his brother's name.

US Immigration officer Joy Tokunago spent months trying to trace Roy's family to confirm proof about his real name as he could not be released and returned to Britain until new identity papers were issued.

She finally traced the family through another brother in England. Mr Woodhouse then emailed the Hawaii detention centre to help confirm Roy's identity.

Mr Woodhouse said he gave officials "some stories" that only his brother would be able to answer questions about.

He added: "I still don't know what he was detained for, although I don't think it is anything too serious as they are now organising his release."

Mr Woodhouse was then able to speak to his brother last week, for the first time in 49 years.

He said: "When I phoned Roy, I just said, how are you? How is the guy who has come back from the dead!

"I didn't ask too many questions, because I think he was pretty nervous about speaking to me."

Brother's forgiveness

Mr Woodhouse, a devoted Christian, said he felt only love and forgiveness for his long-lost brother.

"It is amazing, a miracle. Yes, Roy has taken my identity, but so far it has not had any adverse effect on my life.

"I know he wants to come back to Britain. He is probably just running out of options now he is getting older.

"He did tell me on the phone that he has some health issues but he didn't say what they were."

Mr Woodhouse said he did not know what Roy had been doing during all those years away but said he had never married or had a family.

"He told me he had been in Honolulu since 1995, doing a bit of everything and living rough," he said.