"Forest boy" finally exposed as hoaxer after being identified as Dutch runaway
The mystery "forest boy" who turned up in Berlin claiming to have spent five years living wild in the Germans woods has admitted fabricating the entire story after being identified as a Dutch runaway.
The youth, whose true identity had baffled German police for ten months, was finally named as Robin Van Helsum, a 20 year-old from Hengelo in the Netherlands who had disappeared from his home last year without trace.
The youth had arrived in the German capital in September, claiming to have spent five years living in the woods with his father, sleeping rough in caves and tents.
Giving his name only as "Ray", he fed the authorities an incredible tale of survival, telling them that his father had died and he had been forced to walk alone for five days to seek help. The extraordinary story earned him the soubriquet "forest boy".
However, yesterday it emerged that the youth had simply caught a train to Berlin after walking out on his Dutch family, including his two-year old son, "to start a new life".
His hoax was blown apart when friends of the youth came forward after recognising him from a photograph released by German police - the first he would allow them to take - earlier this week.
He is now facing the threat of criminal charges for a deception that has cost the German taxpayer thousands of pounds.
"He has admitted that he is a fraud," Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin Police told The Daily Telegraph yesterday. ...