April 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM ET
A man who appeared as an extra in the new film “Wrath of the Titans” felt the wrath of the British courts after apparently playing hooky from work to participate in the film.
Mark Preece, 33, a National Health Service community nurse in South Wales, faked a back ailment in order to receive two weeks paid sick leave so he could work on the movie, The Daily Mail reports.
The film, starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Sam Worthington, was made in a quarry less than 20 miles from Tredegar, where Preece lived.
When Preece’s bosses learned what happened, they not only fired him, but took him to court.
“He even lied to a doctor so he could get a sick note to cover for the days he spent on set,” prosecutor Ruth Hale said.
The trial detailed the film fanatic’s adventures shooting dramatic battle scenes for the movie, and pointed out that Preece was both paid for his role as an anonymous soldier and also received sick pay from the NHS for those same days.
Preece reportedly pled guilty to fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information, and obtaining services dishonestly, and was sentenced to 180 hours unpaid work as well as fined.
Was it worth it? Preece has not released a statement, though his former employers did acknowledge the absurdity some might find in the situation.
“The general public may feel that there is a humorous element to this case. But the reality of the matter is that this individual’s conduct defrauded funds from the public purse,” the Aneurin Bevan Health Board said in a statement after the trial, the Daily Mail reported. “Any such loss of funds could ultimately have a detrimental impact on patient care and patient services.”
Some don't have a problem with Preece's acting career.
“If The Royal Family can take money off the state AND moonlight without prosecution then why can't this guy?” a Daily Mail reader going by Lord Nigel observes.
But others note that there were other options for a nurse with stars in his eyes. Reader Anna Notts wrote, “A smarter person would take unpaid leave to do it. Seeing as it’s a once in a lifetime chance, I don’t blame him for going. I just don’t want to have paid for it!”
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