Former Head of Racial Equality Council Denies Identity Theft

The former chief of Somerset Racial Equality Council (SREC) has been found guilty by Taunton Crown Court’s jury and sentenced to nine months in prison.

The 52-year-old man from Wells, Somerset, who went by the name of David Onamade for more than two decades, was convicted of two counts of possessing documents (driver’s license and birth certificate) for purposes of fraud as well as three counts of attempting to claim benefits fraudulently. He, however, walked out of the court free as he has already served 13 months on remand.

Authorities claim that the real David Onamade is an autistic man living under the care of his mother in London. The court also heard that there may be other individuals in Nigeria that are suspected of using the identity of Onamade.

The alleged fake “Onamade,” whose real identity is not yet known, served as SREC’s chief from 2003 up until 2012 and had a reputation as an esteemed racial equality advocate.

Onamade said during trial that he was born in London in 1961 before his Nigerian parents brought him back to Nigeria. He then went back to the UK and used the name Stephen Douglas upon turning 18. His ex-partner Helen Everett testified that he started using the name David Onamade, the name appearing in his birth certificate, in 1992 when they began living together. Everett said her ex-partner claimed Onamade was his real family name and he previously refrained from using it to avoid an overly controlling father. 

The alleged identity theft would not have been uncovered had Onamade not applied for jobseeker’s allowance after the closing of SREC in 2013. He was arrested in October 2013 after authorities discovered that the National Insurance number he used also belongs to an autistic individual in London.

Despite the verdict, the Onamade vehemently denies that he stole another person’s identity.     

Defence counsel Patrick Mason said: “There may be six David Onamades we know of. In many respects he's done nothing wrong. He absolutely, 100% believed he was the person he said he was."    


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