A conman who pretended to be a police officer in Croydon on the night of the riots has been jailed for five years.

Ellis Ward of Bishop's Cleeve, near Cheltenham, tweeted as a Metropolitan Police officer and posed as an army major injured in Iraq.

The 29-year-old, who also conned three women out of a total of £42,000, had 3,000 people including newspapers, following his 'riots' tweets.

Winchester Crown Court heard Ward tweeted and wrote a blog as "Inspector Winter," purporting to be on the frontline during the riots in Croydon and Tottenham, last August.

The serial conman pleaded guilty to 18 charges of fraud between 2008 and 2012.

Sixteen charges relate to conning three women, the 17th charge relates to the Daily Telegraph for writing his column On the frontline, for which he was paid £600 and the last charge was for using false police and military identity cards and uniforms.

The court heard in 2008, Ward ran up credit cards debts of £30,000 in the name of a woman he had a relationship with.

His two other victims, one of whom was a police community support officer turned PC, he met online and defrauded them of £12,000.

He had an array of uniforms and identity cards and carried false warrant cards, real handcuffs and stop and search forms.

As well as posing as a Met counter-terrorism police officer, Ward posed as a major in the Royal Military Police calling himself Ethan Winchcombe or Sir Ethan Winchcombe.

He also posed as an army personnel injured in an explosion in Iraq who worked in the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Last November, he marched at a Remembrance Day service in Ware.

Ward was wanted by police for fraud in 2009, but was released from a nine-month prison sentence before officers could question him. He went on the run for two-and-a-half-years until his arrest in February.

Prosecutor Michael Williams said: "The defendant is a professional and accomplished fraudster.

"His entire life was a fiction, of which he was the author and save for his imagination there was no limit on the lies he was prepared to tell in order to get his hands on money."

Jailing Ward, Judge Peter Ralls QC said: "You engaged yourself in a deception of quite staggering complexity.

"You lived a complete lie. You were in effect creating a fantasy world for yourself."

Nikki Haywood from the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex, said: "He grossly abused the trust and the love of the women he had relationships with.

"He carefully prepared his stories, making sure they were credible to his victims."

Daniel Higgins, defending Ward, said: "He has lived a lie and he does accept he has put a great number of people through heartache.

"He genuinely liked and loved many of the people involved."