A BIGAMIST forged the signature of his wife to obtain £33,000 in loan payouts and falsely claimed to be a decorated Falklands war hero, a court heard.

John Lewis, 48, of Crewkerne, appeared before Taunton Crown Court on Thursday charged with bigamy, making a false statement under oath and fraud.

The court heard that Lewis married Minehead woman Maureen Walder in October, 2007 – eight months before his divorce with another woman was finalised.

Lewis, married four times previously, also swore an affidavit that he was free to wed before their lavish Sri Lankan ceremony.

Soon after, the newlyweds moved to Italy to take a house-sitting job for a wealthy British couple, but when Ms Walder returned to her Minehead flat in spring, 2009, she found County Court Judgments among her post.

Lewis had forged her signature to apply for two loans in her name, and had £10,000 and £23,000 wired to their joint account.

Lewis’ troubles deepened when his Italian employers discovered he had repeatedly lied on his CV to get the job.

His fanciful claims included receiving a gallantry medal for his heroics fighting in the Falklands, being a Lord’s chauffeur, and working as a gardener and handyman.

He even sent a gleaming e-mail reference to his employers claiming to be a Mr Alzeera – a ‘former boss’ – to support his application.

Patrick Mason, defending, said Lewis suffered from Munchausen’s syndrome – a rare psychological and behavioural condition that can lead to compulsive lying.

He said his client was “extremely shameful”

about the way he treated Ms Walder.

“He’s a man with a severe personality disorder,”

he said.

Lewis now lives in sheltered accommodation in Crewkerne and receives support from mental health clinic Holly Court in Yeovil, Mr Mason said.

Lewis will be sentenced in a fortnight.