London beggar travels 220 miles to target VIPs

Simon Cowell gave £20 outside restaurant

Simon Cowell gave £20 outside a restaurant to the beggar. Image by Allie Martin / CC BY 2.0

A man, who appears homeless to passers-by in London’s Mayfair district, actually commutes 220 miles from his flat to beg. Damien Preston-Booth, has been on holidays to Ibiza, Monaco and Paris, and uses a mobile card reader to take payments, reports the Sun newspaper today.

In the past, Damien Preston-Booth (37), has asked famous people for money outside plush restaurants and has been pictured with X-Factor boss Simon Cowell. He claimed that the multi-millionaire gave him £20.

The Evening Standard reports that the man dubbed ‘Supertramp’ was accused of pretending to be homeless, and was said to have made £4,500 over the New Year alone.

He denied that figure, saying that he got about £200 per week from people.

Preston-Booth travels from Preston, where he lives in a £300-a-month flat, to the capital for a few days each week. While there, he sleeps in the doorway of restaurants or a hotel if the weather is bad.

He is said to have targeted wealthy people at restaurants and bars for five years, where he appeals to them with his good line of banter. It is understood that he can speak a little of several languages, including Chinese, which he uses to good effect.

Speaking about his situation, Preston-Booth told the Sun: “I have nothing to hide. I've been homeless and I did beg while I was in London and I have been down since I got my flat in October.

He added: “I do it to buy things for the flat — not like smackheads who spend it on drugs and beers I got my flat saved up and I'm looking for a job now — cleaning work, driving, anything. I'm sorting my life out.”

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