A man has been jailed for sparking a massive police investigation after skiving work after telling his boss he had been kidnapped.
Mariusz Kaminski sent a number of texts to his manager saying he had been held against his will.
The 36-year-old had claimed he didn’t go to work because he’d been kidnapped by three men and bundled into a white BMW.
The Polish-native claimed to have escaped his captors then hidden in a hedge for half an hour before walking to a hospital.
A police investigation involving 22 officers was launched in response to the fake kidnap – as his friends also desperately searched for him.
But he was in fact texting from his home, Salisbury Crown Court heard.
Talented chef Kaminski was sentenced to 16 months jail for making up the “bizarre” tale.
Kaminski, of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was convicted by a Swindon jury in February of perverting the course of justice and fraud by false representation.
Sending the dad-of-one into custody, Recorder Roger Harris said: “This is an unusual, bizarre and ultimately rather sad case.”
During the trial, jurors heard that Polish-born talented chef Kaminski ran into financial difficulties in the mid-2010s.
He had been forced to declare himself bankrupt and his relationship had broken down.
By October 2017, he was working in a Wanborough pub and struggling to pay the mortgage on his Swindon property.
He received news a close friend had killed himself in Poland.
Distraught over his friend’s death and concerned about his financial situation, he failed to turn up to work on a number of days in late October.
His boss was so concerned he went searching for Kaminski in Swindon on October 23.
He found his employee, who looked tearful and embarrassed. Two days later, Kaminski returned to work but was more subdued.
On October 27, Kaminski then told his boss he had debts from a previous business totalling several thousand pounds.
The following day, he sent a number of texts to his manager and a female friend, a Polish national who he’d met in Swindon, saying he’d been kidnapped.
Kaminski’s story as it emerged was that he owed £1,500 to a man called Kenny.
He said he’d been kidnapped by three black men and bundled into a white BMW X6, who were said to have driven him to Marlborough in search of a cash point.
He claimed to have escaped his captors then hidden in a hedge for half an hour before walking to the Great Western Hospital, where his friends were anxiously searching for him.
But rather than walking across the fields, Kaminski was in fact creating his elaborate story from the comfort of his home.
His female friend, who he had warned off calling the police, took out a loan and gave him more than £1,600 after hearing that his family could still be at risk from the “kidnappers”.
The bogus kidnap was reported to Wiltshire Police, with the force launching an investigation involving 22 officers.
Two men were interviewed under caution, with both denying involvement in the alleged kidnap.
Kaminski eventually came clean.
Mitigating, John Dyer asked Recorder Harris to consider imposing a sentence that would enable his client to retain his liberty.
He had reconciled with his wife and daughter and had the offer of work as a senior chef at a Marco Pierre White-run restaurant in Bradford-on-Avon.
Jailing him for 16 months and ordering he pay £1,750 compensation to his friend, Recorder Harris told Kaminski: “Those who commit this type of offence make bogus allegations as a result of which innocent people are harmed and resources expended [they] must expect immediate custodial sentences whatever the mitigation.”