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His Life & Career - Reginald Perrin - Rising Damp

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Real Reginald Perrin Incidents

A collection of reports from the international press
concerning fake suicides and people starting new lives.
Click on the headlines to read the stories on the original web sites.

The Stonehouse Affair
Short Synopsis:

In 1974, John Stonehouse MP disappeared from a beach in Miami, Florida, He had faked his own death. Justice finally caught up with John Stonehouse in Melbourne, Australia. 


The Stonehouse story is the tale of a man who tried to escape his responsibilities by running away. It's a gripping story of adultery, fraud, escape and arrest. At the centre of the story is John Stonehouse: a man tipped for the top, a charismatic charmer who went badly off the rails in the most spectacular of ways. However it's also the story of a young woman blinded by love, his mistress Sheila Buckley. Young and impressionable she loved Stonehouse and stood by him through thick and thin. 

The story starts in 1970 with John Stonehouse as Postmaster General on the eve of the General Election. He's cocky, he's arrogant, the press think he's "great value" but within the House of Commons there are many of the old school who view him with suspicion. Harold Wilson is believed to have given him the job of Postmaster General in the hope that he'd make a mess of it and he could fire him. Stonehouse, handsome, fortyish and with a droll sense of humor is a known womaniser with a taste for young Labour Party female workers. He's having an affair with his secretary, the young and very sought after beauty, Sheila Buckley. His devoted wife of 24 years knows nothing of the affair and plays the ministerial wife to the hilt. His parliamentary colleagues know about the mistress but it's none of their business. Sheila is clearly in awe of this man twice her age who promises her the world. 

Stonehouse once said he had two ambitions - to become Prime Minister and to become a millionaire. To his friends he was spurred on by thrusting impatience, to his enemies he was arrogant, haughty and impulsive. Whatever the truth Stonehouse had great personal charm and in this story the audience should be allowed to warm to him. 

Labour loses power in the 1970 Election and Stonehouse finds himself without a Shadow Cabinet post. His arrogance and selfishness have caught up with him and he's abandoned by Harold Wilson. Disappointed and bitter Stonehouse sets himself the target of making a million in seven years. He tells friends he still aspires to Number Ten but this time he'll "do it his way." To this end he sets up an array of businesses. A former overseas development minister he's well connected in the Third World and establishes an investment bank for Bangladeshis. The affair with Sheila Buckley continues and deepens as he installs her in his Westminster flat. 

By January 1974 things are beginning to go wrong for Stonehouse. One after another his companies get into trouble. He borrows to keep afloat and to hide the mess his companies are in; he starts juggling the books, lying to accountants and deceiving his partners. It's clear to Stonehouse that he's going to get rumbled. The Department of Trade and Industry start to take an unhealthy interest in his goings on. Several of his directors resign and things are looking very shaky. The Sunday Times Insight team fix him in their sights. However Stonehouse is convinced he's a victim of terrible bad luck and that he deserves another chance. 

It is at this time that he decides to escape. He sets about plundering his companies, luring last minute investors and shipping funds abroad. It has to be done quickly as time Is running out. He'll escape to another country with Buckley on his arm. In mid-1974 he starts to put the final pieces together. He applies for two false passports in dead men's names (after reading The Day of the Jackal), opens bank accounts in several countries using their names and decants money from his ailing companies into these accounts. He takes out a £125,000 insurance Policy on his own life. The final act is to fake his own death. All the time he is keeping up the appearances of normality at home and in the House of Commons. 

A Miami beach is to be the venue for his "death". While on a business trip he pretends to go for a swim, leaving a pile of clothes on a beach and dashes for the airport. A delay in the flights and failed nerves means he abandons the attempt. He returns to London in a cold sweat, crestfallen. He returns to Miami two weeks later and repeats the exercise again this time going through with it. The police think he's dead and launch a massive search. The news is relayed to his wife and children who know nothing of the plot. Barbara Stonehouse is distraught and put under sedation. Sheila Buckley plays her part well and says she thinks he probably drowned because "he used to go for long swims by himself." The tributes pour in, the House has a minutes silence etc. Meanwhile the Miami police smell a rat because a body hasn't been washed ashore. They think Stonehouse has been the victim of a Mafia hit. FBI agents dig up the concrete floor of a car park looking for his remains (they find some but not his!), they bring in several suspects. Back in the UK MI5 also aren't so sure he's dead either. They have suspicions that Stonehouse had been a Soviet spy and has been spirited back to the USSR. The Soviets don't deny it enjoying the confusion its causing. Fleet Street noses begin to twitch but not enough to have a look for themselves. The News of the World states "Sharks ate John Stonehouse". 

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While all this is going on Stonehouse is island hopping his way to Australia under one of his false passports, sporting glasses and with a centre parting. He sits on a Hawaii beach reading news of his death with a piña colada in his hand chuckling to himself. He talks to Sheila Buckley on the phone who's having a severe case of the nerves. He tells her not to write but just to forward mail to the aliases he's set up. He arrives in Australia and starts to pour money into Melbourne banks. He starts juggling it from one bank account to another and in doing so attracts attention of a smart bank clerk who's been told to look out for fraud. The police aren't interested in the case and don't intent following it up. 

By a million to one chance the Melbourne police on the same day as they were contacted by the bank about Stonehouse received an Interpol alert to look out for Lord Lucan who had beaten his children's nanny to death. They immediately assume that Stonehouse is Lucan (same build, colouring and he's English) and eagerly follow him for several days. Stonehouse rents a luxury apartment, starts to build a network of contacts, holds a party and generally begins to settle in to his new life oblivious to the heartache and distress his "death" has caused back home. 

After a couple of weeks Stonehouse takes off for Europe and ends up in Copenhagen where he meets Buckley for a "dirty weekend". She begs him to take her back to Australia. He refuses because it will give the game away. Sheila returns to England while he makes it back to Australia. The Australian police lost him in Copenhagen and don't know he met Buckley. They still think he's Lucan and decide to move in before he can make his escape again. On Christmas Eve 1974 they knock on his door and confront him still thinking he might be Lucan. 

He's arrested and immediately tells them who he really is. Then the news gets out the press descend on Melbourne in one of the great all-time Fleet Street scrambles. The Daily Express put 22 men on the case (including their cricket correspondent). The News of the World flies out nine men and a suitcase full of £15,000 to buy Stonehouse's story. The Times Opera Correspondent in Sidney is asked to join in the hunt as well. ITN, BBC news pour teams in. The story fills most newspaper front pages for the days in between Christmas and New Year. The Labour party are hugely embarrassed by it all. 

Stonehouse tells the world "he dropped out" because he was being blackmailed. He hints at dirty dealings and threats against his life. Because as an MP he had enjoyed a form of diplomatic immunity and therefore hadn't actually committed any crime the Australian authorities allow him to stay in Australia. He wins a great deal of public support and becomes a sort of anti-establishment hero - the man who gave the English establishment two fingers. His wife overjoyed that he's still alive flies out laden with Christmas presents for him. Despite the hell he's put her through she rushes to his side forgivingly. She still doesn't know about Buckley although people are beginning to suspect since Stonehouse had been receiving letters from somebody in the UK. The police check phone calls she made in the hotel she'd been staying at - they match Stonehouse's Melbourne number. Mrs. Stonehouse learns her husbands deceit from journalists and the police after a few weeks. 

A deportation battle starts with the Australian authorities allowing Stonehouse to stay but the UK Foreign Office demanding his return to the UK. Sheila Buckley breaks cover and flees to Australia to be with her lover. Stonehouse now has two women by his side - his mistress and his wife. It's a crazy situation which culminates in a blazing row on a Queensland beach with both of them. Barbara Stonehouse returns to London to start divorce proceedings. Stonehouse and Buckley stay in Australia to fight deportation. 

After six months and a massive world-wide fraud investigation, Stonehouse and Buckley are deported to the UK. He's uncovered as a swindler, a cheat and an adulterer. He arrives home, still an MP and is granted bail awaiting trial on dozens of fraud charges. Even though he's disgraced Stonehouse has the effrontery to take Buckley to tea in the House of Commons tea room. He even goes to the Labour Party Blackpool Conference where he's booed and shouted at, "Go back to Australia, scab!" He's got few friends now and still refuses to resign his seat. He causes even greater embarrassment for the Labour party by transferring his allegiance to the English National Party. 

After the longest fraud trial in UK legal history, John Stonehouse is found guilty on 18 charges of fraud and theft. Sheila Buckley collapses as she's found guilty on two charges of theft but gets a suspended sentence. Her mother cries out from the public gallery "Is it a crime to love a man?" Stonehouse gets seven years. The court recognises that Sheila Buckley had been bedazzled by him but that she had been aware of the frauds he was perpetrating. 


Stonehouse served five years of his sentence, abandoned by his friends, divorced by his wife, ignored by the press. When the gates of the prison opened there was only one friend there - Sheila Buckley. Within a few weeks they're married. Three years later they had the child Buckley had longed for. Stonehouse spent the remaining years of his life with her writing books until he died of a heart attack in 1988.

The John and Anne Darwin Story
BBC News - 23rd July 2008

After the convictions of John and Anne Darwin for deception over his disappearance six years ago, their community remains baffled by the crime. 

It is popular as a location for a bracing walk but to many local people, after the events of last December, it will be forever known as "Seaton Canoe". 

And all because of the life and "death" of John Darwin, a former teacher and prison officer, who set off on a canoeing trip and vanished in March 2002. 

Darwin was missing presumed dead and a year later a certificate was issued declaring he had drowned in the North Sea. 

In her bungalow overlooking the sea a few miles further up the coast, Darwin's aunt, 80-year-old Margaret Burns, often thinks about past conversations with his frail, elderly father. 

"He used to refuse to look out of his back window for ages because he was frightened he'd see John drowning. 

"I'd spend my time trying to convince him that he wasn't out there struggling with a canoe. 

"He wasn't getting run down by a tanker and he wasn't drowning. He died quickly and painlessly, but his father would never believe it. He was right wasn't he?" 

He was right. 

In December last year, John Darwin walked into a London police station claiming to have amnesia and saying that he might be a missing person. 

He was reunited with his two astonished and relieved sons. But days later he was arrested on suspicion of fraud and his lies unravelled in the most public and spectacular fashion. 

It is only in the last week that the details of what happened on the day he went missing have become public. 

In taped police interviews, John Darwin admits he did take to the water in his canoe. 

"I took the canoe out and paddled out to sea," he said. 

He goes on to describe how he headed south towards a point known locally as North Gare. It is the northerly point of the mouth of the River Tees, about a mile from the Darwin's home. 

"What did you do with the canoe?" a detective asks. 

"I just pushed it out to sea," Darwin replies. 

Taped interviews with Anne Darwin - who claimed in court she had been forced by her husband to act against her will - show her telling detectives there had been much talk about the idea of him going missing. 

Three months beforehand as their debts got unmanageable he remarked that he would be better off dead than alive because of the value of life insurance policies he had. 

He was serious and kept pushing the idea as the weeks went by. 

"I knew the day John had gone missing that he had gone missing and had planned it," Anne Darwin told her trial. 

"I got a telephone call from him at work that afternoon to say that he was going to go out in the canoe and he wanted me to get home by seven that evening to pick him up and to help him make his getaway. 

"He asked me to pick him up in the car park at North Gare. 

"I had to sit and wait a while. Eventually he came towards the car and he said he had everything with him that he needed." 

She then dropped him off at Durham railway station, went home and called the police. 

She watched the search operation go on for days from her window knowing all along they would never find her husband. 

When family members that had been comforting Anne left their home, she brought her husband back to Seaton Carew. 

Their home was a large terraced property which they had bought along with the house next door, at the time divided into bedsits. 

The labyrinth of rooms spread over five floors was an easy place for him to live and hide. 

Their living areas were divided by a small door, through which John Darwin would disappear if friends or family visited. 

Darwin changed his appearance. He grew his hair and an astonishing beard - he looked like a member of the rock band ZZ Top - and applied for a passport in a false name using a picture of his new self. 

He had used the birth certificate of a child who died in 1950 and was buried in a cemetery in Sunderland. 

His name was John Jones and his surviving family say they feel "angry and upset that someone could stoop so low and be so despicable" in their actions. 

The Darwins' neighbours occasionally heard Anne Darwin laughing with a man in the back garden of her home but they never had an inkling about the truth. 

To the outside world she kept up the pretence of the grieving widow. 

In a statement to police close to the time of the inquest she helpfully added that her husband had "never quite perfected the Eskimo roll", as if to explain how he might have drowned. 

Bill Rodriguez lived next door to the Darwins' home at the time. 

"How could she cover it up? She's a good person but thinking about it, how could she cover it up, to us especially?" he said. 

"It's amazing thinking about it. I was having coffee in their lounge with my wife and he was hanging around upstairs. It's amazing." 

What also appears to be amazing is that the truth wasn't uncovered before the Darwins sold up and moved to Panama. 

A death certificate issued after the inquest was Anne Darwin's ticket to cash in all the life insurance and pension policies. 

And as the money rolled in - more than £250,000 - they planned their new life together behind closed doors and their sons' backs. 

Frauds such as this are sometimes described as victimless crimes. 

But there were two victims in the crime - Mark and Anthony Darwin, who thought their father was dead for more than five years. 

On the first anniversary of his supposed death, Anne Darwin threw flowers into the sea to help comfort the boys. 

The first they knew of the conspiracy was when the infamous picture of the Darwins posing with an estate agent in Panama went on the internet. 

Their oldest son Mark told the jury in their mother's trial: "I couldn't believe the fact that she knew he was alive all that time and I'd been lied to for god knows how long." 

Many of the people in Seaton Carew in recent weeks bring up the same point: how could John and Anne Darwin have done that to their own children? 

John Darwin has told detectives that he is sorry for all the trouble he caused and it was always his intention to pay the money back. 

But the consequences of his actions will mean a lengthy spell in prison to reflect on what began in the cold North Sea and ended in the tropics.

Woman in 'mid-life crisis' disappears
Daily Telegraph - 25th February 1998

A CAREER woman has vanished from her family home after talking to her husband about wanting to "find herself". 

Shirley Ann Davies, a £35,000-a-year sales executive, is thought to have been "experiencing a personal crisis" since her 40th birthday. 

Mrs Davies travels across Europe for Mitel, a computer company for which she has worked since 1988. 

She is fluent in Dutch and German and had her passport with her when she disappeared from her home in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, two weeks ago. Police traced her to a hotel near Tewkesbury, Glos, but Mrs Davies, who has two teenage children, said she was fine and not ready to go home. Since then she has returned when no one was in and left notes for her family. 

Her husband Gary received a card from her on Valentine's Day in which she said she loved him. Her car has been found 

abandoned at the local railway station. The tax disc had been removed and police think that she may have acquired another vehicle or is travelling by train. Police said: "That is where the trail ends." 

Mitel yesterday appealed for her to contact the company and said it could provide therapeutic help. A spokesman said: "If she needs to talk to anyone or a shoulder to cry on she should ring our counselling service." 

Sgt Maurice Penny of Gwent police said: "She is obviously in the middle of a personal crisis. She said she wanted to find herself but we are anxious to know she is safe." Mrs Davies celebrated her 40th birthday last July and moved into a new house with her husband, daughter Nicola, 18, and son Richard, 16, shortly afterwards. 

She left home on Feb 10 and was reported missing two days later. Police have been tracing her movements by checking withdrawals from her bank account but there have been no transactions for a week.

Coral reef couple 'faked dive deaths'
Daily Telegraph - 26th April 1998

DETECTIVES are investigating reports that a young American couple, who disappeared on a scuba diving trip last January, may have staged their own deaths. 

Speculation about the disappearance of the couple, who were left behind by a dive boat after a day trip from Port Douglas, Queensland, to a remote coral reef, increased after reports that two unidentified Americans fitting their description had been spotted close to where they were last seen. 

There have been a number of other reported sightings of Tom Lonergan, 34, and his wife Eileen, 29, along the Queensland coast since they vanished on January 25. The couple, both experienced divers, were on holiday in Australia after working with the American Peace Corps in Fiji and Tuvalu. 

People who met the couple in Port Douglas, where they were staying, remember two "smiling young Americans" who had come to Australia specifically to dive on St Crispen reef. In fact they waited 10 days until the weather conditions were perfect for their dive. 

The couple did three dives in the area before being given permission to dive on their own. Other divers report them climbing back on board for the return trip, but then disappearing into the water again. The alarm was only raised when a crew member from the dive boat Outer Edge found their bags two days later. A sea and air search later recovered pieces of equipment, flippers and clothing, but no bodies. 

While the police seem to believe the couple probably drowned or were eaten by sharks, more elaborate theories continue to proliferate. Speculation that the couple may have planned their suicide started after notes were found by police in the Lonergans' hotel room which were said to have indicated there had been recent "personal trauma" indicating the couple were suicidal.

But relatives have angrily discounted this theory. They have denied suggestions that the couple had marriage problems - or that Mr Lonergan was depressed about his job prospects. Mr Lonergan's mother Elizabeth said: "I will tell you what the story is: they were left behind. All this talk about them wanting to disappear is just a bunch of garbage - somebody left them in the water and they did not report it for two and a half days."

The Queensland police are currently winding up their investigation and their findings will be aired at an inquest due to begin this week in the town of Mossman. Police say valuable time was wasted investigating possible links between this case and that of a fellow American, Milton Harris, who attempted to fake his own suicide by jumping off a car ferry in South Australia in 1985. When a rescuer dived in to save him, he found Harris, who had a $3 million life insurance policy, sitting on the seabed breathing from a concealed air bottle. Harris later disappeared off a New Zealand ferry. 

Detective Colin McCallum said that despite the fact that all three people came from Baton Rouge in Louisiana, there was nothing to link the two incidents and he dismissed the idea that the Lonergans had somehow faked their own suicide as "nonsense". But few people in Port Douglas - and certainly not those who know the Barrier Reef well - are happy with the official version of events surrounding the Lonergans' disappearance. 

While the authorities initially claimed that the couple had drowned or were eaten by tiger sharks, diving experts say that the couple could have easily swum to a well-frequented pontoon and waited to be picked up by rescuers. 

Grahame Connett, a local diver, said: "There was a Quicksilver dive site - a brightly lit permanent platform in the ocean used by divers - that is 2.7 nautical miles from the dive site. It was in the area, if they wanted to go there. There were three or four boats in the area and a dive platform, and they [the Lonergans] had five hours of light available. There is no doubt that they could have reached one of those. Conditions were excellent." 

Mr Connett does not believe that the Lonergans were hunted down by Tiger sharks, saying that such sharks do not inhabit the waters around St Crispen reef. There are docile sharks, not maneaters. Like others, Mr Connett says that it seems strange that so much of the Lonergans' personal equipment - diving vests, weights, tanks, weight belts and two cameras - was recovered from the sea but with no trace of their bodies. And if they were attacked by sharks why wasn't their clothing shredded and bloodied? 

The Queensland government, fearful of the potential damage to the state's lucrative underwater tourism industry, is anxious to wrap up the Lonergan investigation and to prosecute those responsible for their presumed deaths. Whatever the outcome of the coroner's inquest, the mystery surrounding Thomas and Eileen Lonergan seems likely to continue.

Stressed dad's vanishing act
BBC News - 10th February 1999

A father has been reunited with his family, more than six months after vanishing from his home without explanation. 

Neil Yates, who is married with two children, says it was stress that led him to walk out and start a new life hundreds of miles away. 

Just like the fictional television character Reggie Perrin, the 37-year-old farm worker had had enough of the rat race. 

The pressures of working 10 hours-a-day combined with bringing up a young family caused him to crack. 

Last July he set off for a family wedding in Somerset but never arrived. 

He started his lonely pilgrimage with a visit to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent and was eventually traced by police seven months later to a hostel on the south coast. 

He said: "I just couldn't cope with work pressure and home pressure. I felt I was letting everybody down. 

"I wasn't spending enough time at home with my family and I thought I was letting work down if I wasn't at work. So I just decided to go. 

"It had been building up for a few days. I felt unable to cope with work and just wanted a few days on my own. 

"But once I had started I could not stop. It's like telling a little lie and then getting deeper and deeper into trouble with bigger ones just to cover the first one." 

His wife Alison says she is just relieved to have him back home again. 

Mrs Yates said: "We have just got to look to the future now. We have two fantastic children and our lives will go on and we will have a really good time."

'I want to be alone'

Neal Yates is not alone in wanting to be alone in the modern world. 

Around 250,000 people go missing nationally each year with men aged between 26 and 35 particularly vulnerable. However, the majority turn up safely. 

Such vanishing acts are either considered selfish or symptomatic of the pressure increasingly faced by many people. 

A recent survey found that one in four people claims work is too stressful with British industry losing 90m working days a year because of stress-related illnesses. 

According to Cary Cooper, BUPA professor of organisational psychology at University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, it is all too easy for stress to spiral out of control. 

He said: "What Neil Yates appears to have been suffering from is what I call 'burn out'. 

"This is when all the pressures of life have built up to the point where you just can no longer cope and have to get out. 

"Speaking generally, work is becoming more stressful because many organisations are restructuring, delayering or rationalising. Whatever you call it, there are fewer people doing more work. 

"And those who are left see people leaving, which makes them feel vulnerable and insecure, so they work longer hours. 

"In turn this creates pressures at home as working parents are tired when they get home and find they have less time for their partner and their children. 

"I think women are much better at adapting to modern life as they know what they want. It is men who are having the problems."

Search Goes On For 'Champagne Charlie'
BBC News - 18th May 1999

Detectives hunting a father-of-two who disappeared in bizarre circumstances in November owing £20,000 to an underworld gang say they are no nearer discovering his whereabouts. 

Andrew Hoy, a 31-year-old salesman for an Essex cleaning firm, was last seen by his family on 22 November when he told them he was going to Portsmouth to sort out his problems. 

His car was discovered two days later in a quiet residential street in Salisbury, Wiltshire. 

In the boot of the red BMW was a bag containing the 31-year-old businessman's blood-stained clothes. 

'He did not die in those clothes'

Forensic scientists who examined the stains said they were inconsistent with a man having been killed in those clothes. 

An imitation pistol was also found in the car which was parked in a quiet residential road two miles away from thehome of Mr Hoy's sister, Angela West. But she did not see him in the week of his disappearance. 

Mr Hoy had received death threats in the weeks before his disappearance and had moved his wife, Tracey, and young daughters out of their home in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, and into a hotel in Suffolk for their own safety. 

They have not heard from him since November. 

The man in charge of the hunt for Mr Hoy, Detective Chief Inspector Sid Kimber, said he had two theories about what had happened to him. 

"Either he is lying dead somewhere or he has gone off with one of the women who he had been seeing," he said.

'Lived beyond his means'

Mr Kimber said one of Mr Hoy's secret lovers had told them he lived a "champagne lifestyle, funded on beer money". 

He said he believed Mr Hoy had got into debt because of his lifestyle, and had then become tempted into drug dealing. 

But Mr Hoy, who had no previous criminal record, was "out of his depth" and eventually ended up owing an Essex drugs gang £20,000. 

In the last few months of his life he lost four stones in weight. Mr Kimber said this was believed to be due to a combination of stress and his own drug habit. 

Mr Kimber said the mystery had now been scaled down to a missing person's inquiry, but he said it was a distinct possibility that Mr Hoy was dead. 

Releasing the most recent picture of Mr Hoy, he said: "Nothing I have found out indicates he is dead. Possibly he has done a 'Reggie Perrin'. 

'Let us know if you're alive'

"But if he has I would appeal to him on behalf of his family - and especially his poor mother who I know is very distressed - to contact someone, just to say he is alive". 

In the last few months before his disappearance Mr Hoy lost four stones in weight and Mr Kimber said this was probably a combination of stress and drug taking. 

Mr Kimber said Mr Hoy, a keen West Ham United fan, had two distinctive tattoos - a British bulldog on his right leg and another bulldog, with crossed hammers, on his arm.

'Reggie Perrin' father escapes punishment
BBC News - 8th June 1999

Police say they do not plan to take any action against a father of three who has been found safe and well after staging his own disappearance eight months ago. 

Graham Cardwell, a 46-year-old assistant dockmaster at Immingham, north Lincolnshire, had been missing presumed drowned since last September. 

A massive air and sea search was sparked after some of his belongings, including a lifejacket and helmet, were found on mud flats at the docks. 

Search teams believed he had been accidentally swept out to sea while carrying out routine checks. 

His wife Jane, their two schoolboy sons aged 14 and 17 and a university student daughter, 20, had given him up for dead. 

But, like Reggie Perrin, the 1970s sitcom character played by actor Leonard Rossiter, Mr Cardwell had begun a new life in another part of the country. 

At the weekend, police acting on a tip-off found him alive and well at a secret address in the West Midlands, 200 miles away. 

Mr Cardwell told officers he had been suffering from depression and a fear that he was dying from cancer, but had divulged neither condition to his family. 

He said he spent a month walking to the West Midlands where he changed his name, got a job and found himself a flat. 

A Humberside police spokesman said Mr Cardwell regretted the disappearance and its consequences as soon as he did it.

He said police had decided not to prosecute the former Grimsby Conservative councillor in relation to his disappearance. 

"He said he believed he had cancer and didn't want to put his family through the anguish of that." 

He added: "Although he gave medical reasons for his disappearance we are not aware that he has been receiving treatment. 

"Nor did he take any steps to prevent people from assuming that he was dead." 

Police said they would not make public Mr Cardwell's address for fear of jeopardising the anonymity of the person who tipped them off. However, the spokesman said: "A family reunion is not expected for the foreseeable future. 

"We have told them he is safe and well and to be honest they are trying to get their heads around the news. 

"They had been mourning for eight months and his reappearance has left them understandably shocked." 

Mrs Cardwell said the family were "distraught". 

She said: "For eight months we have lived with the thought that Graham was dead. 

"To suddenly be told he is alive and living a life somewhere else is difficult to come to terms with." 

She added: "We have been under a great deal of pressure since Graham disappeared and we need time together to work out how we are going to cope with this."

A history of Christmas scandal past
BBC News - 23rd December 1999


Dead or alive

On Christmas Eve 1974 the news that Labour MP John Stonehouse was alive hit the headlines.

Mr Stonehouse had left behind a wife, a daughter, a mistress and a mountain of debts when he faked his death leaving a pile of clothes on a beach Reggie Perrin style. 

Unfortunately, the Australian police who captured the fugitive former minister were disappointed they had discovered a politician and not Lord Lucan. 

Two years later Mr Stonehouse was convicted to seven years imprisonment on 18 counts of theft, fraud and deception.


Branson does a Reggie Perrin

Sunday Mirror - 5th March 2000
The caption says: The dash down the beach, the flinging off of the clothes, the rush into the sea...and out again. It's all very familiar, but this time it's Richard Branson doing a Reggie Perrin. He threw caution - and his boxer shorts - to the wind at Hayling Island, Hants., for a TV advert for his VirginOne account, which gets its first airing today.  He was so cold he left his underwear behind when he finished - and gave Sue and Paul Clarke of Reading a free Virgin flight for retrieving them.
(c) Mirror Group Newspapers.
'Reggie Perrin' fugitive is caught in Florida
Daily Telegraph - 21st April 2000

A WANTED British businessman who faked his own suicide 10 years ago was caught by police after being recognised by a holidaymaker in Florida. 

Carl Hilderbrandt, 42, disappeared in the manner of the 1970s television character Reggie Perrin by giving the impression he had drowned. He assumed a false identity by obtaining a passport in the name of a dead child - a method first described in Frederick Forsyth's novel The Day of the Jackal. 

Hilderbrandt had jumped bail while charged in connection with the disappearance of £110,000 in cheques from his girlfriend's employers. Relatives had to forfeit £25,000 in sureties when he failed to appear in court. Sheffield Crown Court was told that his life on the run began after his family bakery business hit financial difficulties in 1989. 

Colin Burn, prosecuting, said that Hilderbrandt hired an Austin Metro in March 1990, telling the rental firm owner that he had argued with his girlfriend. The car was recovered a few days later from the Humber. It was full of mud and did not contain Mr Hilderbrandt, but for a long time afterwards his family believed him dead. 

Unbeknown to him, the charges relating to him and his former girlfriend, Michele Chivers, over the cheques being converted to krugerrands were discontinued. It emerged that before the car was found in the river, Hilderbrandt had applied for a passport in the name of Charles Norman Staines, a child from the Hull area who had drowned. 

Hilderbrandt, from Rotherham, South Yorks, went on to set up a new life in the United States, using an alias, but drifted into crime and again skipped bail. He was eventually brought to the 

attention of the British authorities after striking up a friendship with a tourist from Sheffield while in Bocca Raton, Florida. At the time he was using the name Charlie Staines, but when the holidaymaker returned home he recognised Hilderbrandt's photograph in a local newspaper article about his disappearance. 

Police were informed and enlisted the help of a private investigator and Fort Lauderdale police to trace him. He was brought back to Britain eight months ago and this week admitted four charges of obtaining passports by deception, failing to surrender to custody and three counts of theft. He was jailed for 15 months. 

In America, Hilderbrandt set up home with Sheri Leitch, 31, with whom he ran a watercraft rental business and had two children. Police inquiries showed he also had a second fake passport, in the name of Dean Perry, another dead child from Humberside, which he had renewed at the British embassy in Washington in March 1995. Police believe he took the children's details from their gravestones and applied for duplicate copies of their birth certificates. Hilderbrandt was arrested by American police for burglary and a stalking incident in 1997, but skipped bail. Later, he spent 15 months in an American jail for hire car fraud before being deported back to Britain. 

David Smith, defending, said Hilderbrandt was unaware of the effect his actions had had on the families of the children whose identities he assumed. He said: "He fled the country in relation to allegations which were subsequently discontinued and was on the run for matters which did not come to court." Hilderbrandt's Polish-born father Jan, a former steelworker, died four years ago, not knowing whether his son was dead or alive. His mother Joan, 69, of Whiston, Rotherham, who attended the court hearing, said: "We'll all be happy when it comes to an end. It's gone on too long."

Lawyer who ran away to start a new life is jailed for a year
Daily Telegraph - 14th February 2001

A SOLICITOR who abandoned his job and his wife to begin a new life picking flowers in Cornwall, was jailed for a year yesterday for using his clients' money to fund his disappearance. 

Alastair Liddle left his home in Elgin, Moray, in December 1997 to travel to a meeting in Edinburgh to be questioned about the state of his accounts and his wife expected to see him later that day. He telephoned her to say he had arrived safely but then threw his mobile phone into a railway station bin, withdrew nearly £6,000 from his firm's account and, in the manner of the television character Reginald Perrin, vanished without trace. 

Liddle, 43, fled to Cornwall where he changed his name to Rob Fox and eventually joined itinerant workers travelling around farms picking flowers. He only resurfaced a year later when Cornish police spoke to him and other farm workers about a murder. 

When he gave his real name, a police computer showed that he was wanted for an unpaid traffic fine in the north of Scotland. He was almost unrecognisable as the stressed and grossly overweight solicitor who had walked out on his previous life, leaving friends and family wondering if he was dead or alive. 

He had lost eight stones, looked years younger, was living in a caravan near Penzance, and wearing jeans and T-shirts. Liddle had to return to Scotland for court appearances, but made no attempt to contact his wife Annemarie, 40, when he was dealt with over the traffic offence, or when he admitted embezzling nearly £18,000. 

William MacVicar, defending, said his client had been suffering from severe stress when he took the money from the client

account at Liddle & Co. His financial, health and personal difficulties, which included an unhappy relationship with his mother-in-law, had built to a point at which suicide seemed an attractive option. When he lost money by failing to carry out a client's instructions over a civil case, he paid him by stealing from the firm's account. 

Mr MacVicar said: "At the end of it all he had two choices - suicide or inventing a new life." He hatched his escape plan after the Law Society of Scotland called him to Edinburgh to answer complaints about his accounts. 

Elgin sheriff court heard that he had repaid some of the money, but still owes around £12,000, which he plans to pay back with the help of his girlfriend. Sheriff Kenneth Forbes told him he accepted that he was a "different person" with a new life "that has some success to it". But he added that he breached the trust of his clients and a prison sentence was the only possible option. 

Outside the court, Paula Pirie, 40, a mortgage adviser in St Ives, with whom Liddle has a one-month-old baby daughter Iona, criticised the sheriff for ignoring a recommendation in a background report that he should not be jailed. 

She added: "The Scottish system is feudal. They didn't take any of the mitigating circumstances into account. He was depressed at the time. He is a wonderful person, really caring. He has got a new life and has offered to pay all the money back but that doesn't seem to have had any effect at all. My little girl Jeanine lost her real dad four years ago in a fishing tragedy. She thinks the world of Alastair." 

Liddle plans to return to Cornwall when he is released.

Husband of 'lost' family arrested
Daily Telegraph - 24th October 2001

DETECTIVES investigating the disappearance of a mother and her two children 26 years ago have arrested the woman's husband on suspicion of murder. 

Patricia Allen, 39, and her children, Jonathan, seven, and Victoria, five, vanished from their home in the seaside town of Salcombe, Devon, in 1975. No trace of them has been found and their disappearance became one of Britain's biggest and most baffling missing persons inquiries. 

Devon and Cornwall police arrested Mrs Allen's husband, Anthony, in the Bournemouth area on Monday. He was released on bail to re-appear in January. A file on the case has been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. 

Mrs Allen and her children were last seen by neighbours on May 26, 1975. Her husband, then aged 41, moved in with another woman months later. He did not report his family missing. A police investigation later began after rumours of their disappearance came to the attention of a local constable. 

Mr Allen told police that his wife had walked out on him, returning two evenings later to collect their children. He said he had not reported her missing because she had said she was going to America to meet a former boyfriend. 

Mrs Allen made no further contact with friends or relatives and she did not use her bank. She left behind a wardrobe of clothes and hundreds of pounds owed to her from the sale of a beauty parlour remained uncollected. 

This year, Devon and Cornwall police re-opened the investigation. At the time the decision was taken a police spokesman said: "We have a policy in force to look at unsolved cases of missing persons after so many years, and to review them using modern techniques and principles to see if we can come up with any new lines of inquiry."

Mr Allen has always denied involvement in his wife's disappearance. He complained at the time of the initial police inquiry that he had undergone vigorous questioning from detectives. 

He said: "I am at the end of my tether. The police have given me a hard time. I know they have a job to do, but my aim is the same as theirs - to find evidence that my wife and kids are alive and well." 

Mr Allen was born Anthony John Angell in Torbay, Devon, on June 11, 1934, but spent most of his early years in Bournemouth. There he met and married his first wife, Monica. 

The couple settled in Surrey, where Mr Allen got a job as a wages clerk. After being declared bankrupt, he disappeared and tried to fake his death. A pile of his clothes and a suicide note were found at Beachy Head. He moved to Halifax, West Yorks, where he adopted a new identity and met and married Patricia.

While their marriage was not legal because he was already married, it was regularised after he was divorced from his first wife. Shortly after Mrs Allen disappeared, MrAllen moved in with a widowed restaurant manageress and mother of three children, Eunice Chapman. She ran the Galley restaurant in Salcombe. 

The pair had a 17-year relationship and she wrote a book called Presumed Dead about the mystery. She lost contact with him in 1989. She once said: "I thought he was gorgeous and I couldn't understand all the gossip. I think he eventually got bored with our relationship. I could see it had run its course." 

The man who led the police inquiry and questioned Mr Allen and Mrs Chapman, the former Det Chief Supt John Bissett, said nine years ago: "It was the disappointment of my service that I was never able to clear up the matter." 

Mr Allen could not be contacted yesterday.

'Faked death' gynaecologist was certified dead by doctor
Ananova - 31st December 2001

Disgraced gynaecologist Dr Rodney Ledward was certified dead by a doctor at an Irish hospital in October 2000. 

The Southern Health Board in Cork told Ananova the doctor was certified dead at Cork University Hospital on October 19. 

It was claimed Mr Ledward had faked his own death to escape accusations of sexual assaults. 

He was buried in St Gobnait's Cemetery outside the town of 

Mallow in North County Cork. Dr Ledward had been treated at the hospital for pancreatic cancer. 

He'd been struck off for a series of medical blunders. 

He was also being investigated by police over dozens of accusations of sexual assaults on women at Kent hospitals. 

Dr Ledward was due to have been interviewed by Kent police four days after he died. Since his death, there have been alleged sightings of him in Ireland and Spain. 

A Garda spokesman told Ananova they have not been contacted by Kent police.

The Cold Feet generation has an early mid-life crisis
Daily Telegraph - 13th July 2002

A third of 30-somethings are experiencing the equivalent of a "mid-life" crisis, research claims today. 

The so-called Cold Feet generation, named after the ITV comedy drama about three couples struggling with marriage, separation and children, feels it is not making the most of what life has to offer and is panicking. Their anxiety is fuelled by boredom and a sense of being trapped in nine-to-five jobs. 

Research among 1,000 people showed that 38 per cent of 18-30s feared they would suffer a crisis by the time they reached their mid-thirties while 33 per cent of those aged 31 to 40 were now at "panic point".

While financial commitments topped the list of barriers to cutting loose, more than one in 10 people said they were too scared to take the plunge anyway. 

Nevertheless, one in four said a television programme about opting out of the rat race had prompted them to change their own lives in some substantial way. 

James Duffell, of the Virgin One account, which commissioned the poll, said: "To think your 30s would be the pressure point for a mid-life crisis is incredible given that men and women are now more likely to live into their 80s."

Man shows up at his own funeral
Ananova - 15 October 2002

Mourners screamed in horror after a man they thought was being buried turned up at the funeral. 

Edison Vicuna was drunk when he appeared at the funeral in Cuenca, Ecuador. 

His family and friends were mourning a body they thought was Vicuna after he went missing for three days.

Jorge Matute, who had performed the post-mortem on the body, told Terra Noticias Populares newspaper: "The body had his face disfigured after a car crash and was mistaken for Vicuna." 

Mourners at the funeral screamed in panic when they saw a drunk Vicuna walking around. Some of them even fainted. 

The dead man was returned to the morgue where he was properly identified.


Serbian who faked his own funeral now selling his grave
Ananova - 8th November 2002

A Serbian pensioner who faked his own funeral while he was still alive to see who'd turn up is now selling his grave. 

Vuk Peric from the village of Gornji Stupanj near Arandjelovac, organised his funeral five years ago to see who would pay their respects. 

He sent out the funeral invitations himself, put a fake death notice in the paper and then watched the service from a distance. 

Eventually, he revealed himself, thanked everyone for attending and then invited them to come to his wake.

"I wanted to see people smiling at my funeral and was curious who would come for the last seeing off," he told Serbian daily newspaper 'Vernje Novosti'. 

Peric, who has been described as gambler, is in his late 60s but refuses to reveal his real age. The grave and its tombstone are the only property he has left. 

"I was running an exciting life even the last few years after my death and the beginning of my new life," he said. 

However, while the price of the used grave and tombstone is negotiable, no offers have been made yet.

Fake death in huge explosion plot is unwittingly foiled
Ananova - 20th November 2002

A passing newspaper deliveryman unwittingly foiled a petrol station employee's attempt to fake his own death by blowing the petrol pumps up, a Canadian court has heard. 

An arson investigator in Surry, British Columbia says the explosion would have destroyed an entire city block. 

Patrick Keber, 33, who was working at the gas station at the time of the fire, has been sentenced to two years in jail after being convicted of arson and theft.

During the trial, the court was told that Keber intended to blow up the gas station fake his death through the explosion. 

Balbir Dhaliwal was driving past the station about 3:30am when he saw a small fire at the station. 

He said he called 911, then used one of the water hoses by the station's pumps to extinguish the blaze. 

Canoe news reports what Mr Dhaliwal didn't know was that he had interrupted a plan to blow the station up by igniting its underground storage tanks.

Murder accused 'admitted bigamy'
BBC News - 3rd December 2002

A husband accused of murdering his wife and children in Devon had been through a bigamous marriage with her and had previously faked his own suicide, a court has heard. 

Anthony John Allen made a statement to police in May 1976, saying he had met his wife Patricia in 1967 about the same time he faked his own death. 

Mr Allen, of Poole, Dorset, also said in the statement he had been through a bigamous marriage with Patricia before marrying her in a legal ceremony in 1972. 

The 68-year-old denies murdering his wife and their children, Jonathan, seven, and Victoria, five, who all disappeared in Salcombe in May 1975. 

Mr Allen's past emerged at Exeter Crown Court when statements he made to the police after the disappearance of his family were read to the court by the prosecution. 

It was also revealed he had been imprisoned for 13 months in 1973 over a mail delivery business and told police his wife "did not want me from the time I came out". 

In a witness statement made to the police in October 1975, Allen said when he moved to Salcombe earlier that year as restaurant manager of the Marine Hotel, his marriage was "under strain".

He said they were trying to make a new start, but were "drifting apart". 

The statement added in May 1975 he and Patricia had an argument after going to a carnival with the children and that day or the next, he found her packing her bags and leaving in her Volkswagen car. 

Mr Allen said in the statement she reappeared the next day, saying she could not live without the children, and that she was considering emigrating. 

The children were then woken up, clothes and toys were packed, and they were told they were going on a "little holiday". 

Mr Allen said he signed a piece of paper, written by his wife, agreeing to hand the children into her custody and she could take them anywhere she liked. 

The court heard he told the police he never saw or heard from them again after she drove off in her Volkswagen car. 

She had said she would leave it at Totnes railway station, but it was not there when he went later to pick it up, and he was told four or five weeks later it was in a Salcombe car park. 

The trial continues.

Man who faked death pleads guilty to fraud
Canada.com - 4th December 2002

A Quebec man who faked his own drowning to collect about $250,000 in life insurance pleaded guilty to attempted fraud. 

Florent Terrassin, 40, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and mischief charges when he appeared in court on Tuesday. 

Terrassin, a baker in nearby Les Coteaux, about 30 kilometres southwest of Montreal, entered the pleas because he wanted a quick end to the case. His wife, Josette Faure Terrassin, made a similar move after her arrest in November. 

Florent Terrassin was found alive in his bed by police several weeks after being reported missing while on a fishing trip in August. 

Police said he had been hiding out in the United States while his wife allegedly tried to cash in two insurance policies worth almost $300,000.

Terrassin's wife called police on Aug. 20 to report that her husband was lost in the St. Lawrence River. 

His wallet, a shoe and fishing gear were found in the water, leading rescuers to believe he had drowned, said police. 

The RCMP, Quebec provincial police and local rescue crews combed the river for two days before calling off the search. 

Investigators became suspicious when they received a call from the couple's insurance company. 

Police also received a call from a Canada Customs agent who claimed she had seen the man cross into Canada from the United States a few weeks after his disappearance. 

Further inquiries revealed the couple's young son told schoolmates he had spoken to his father, said police.

Accused Killer Faked Own Death
This Is Cornwall - 6th December 2002

The man accused of murdering his young family 27 years ago in the Westcountry had already been in prison and "done a Reggie Perrin", a court heard yesterday. 

Exeter Crown Court was told that Anthony John Angel had left a pile of clothes near Beachy Head in 1967 - before swimming out to sea in a fake suicide. 

He then resurfaced down the coast and began his life as Anthony John Allen - meeting Patricia Walker in December 1967 and marrying her in 1972. 

Allen is accused of murdering Patricia, 39, and their children Jonathan, seven, and Victoria, five, between May 25 and 30, 1975. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Allen staged the fake suicide bid at Beachy Head in 1967 as he was splitting from his first wife Monica Lightfoot around that time. 

Det Sgt Richard Bailey, of Devon and Cornwall Police, told Mark Evans QC, prosecuting, that Allen had faked his own suicide in 1967. He told the court that Allen swam into the sea, leaving a pile of clothes, and emerged "some way up the coast" before disappearing and becoming John Allen. 

But defence counsel John Aspinall QC, cross-examining Det Sgt Bailey, said this was already known to the police before the investigation into Patricia's disappearance. 

He said: "You knew full well that he had done a Reggie Perrin and changed his name from Angel to Allen." 

Mr Aspinall was referring to the 1970s TV sitcom starring Leonard Rossiter, in which the central character fakes suicide by planting clothes on the beach. 

Allen met Patricia after that incident in December 1967, and in 1968 he appeared in court for bigamy, as he was still married to Monica. 

He was also charged with one offence of larceny and one of false pretences, but asked for a further 116 offences to be taken into account. He received a suspended sentence of two years in jail, which carried for three years.

Then, three years later, he was fined £150 and £17 costs for theft involving a tea machine, in June 1971. And the following year, at Manchester Crown Court, Allen was jailed for three years for four offences of criminal damage and four of theft, involving the burning of private mail during the postal strike. 

He served 12 months of that sentence in jail. 

The court heard that at the time Patricia told friends and relatives that Allen was in hospital with TB of the kidney during that prison term, but later people subsequently found out he had been in jail. 

Since Patricia disappeared in 1975, Allen has been in court twice. In May 1990 at Isleworth Crown Court, he was jailed for three years for five theft offences arising from a conveyancing business. And in May 2000, he was given six months imprisonment suspended for two years for 13 theft offences and one of obtaining a pecuniary advantage. 

Mr Aspinall asked Det Sgt Bailey: "But there is nothing to suggest violence or that he has been a violent man?" 

Det Sgt Bailey replied: "Not that I am aware of." 

Allen legally married Patricia in 1972, and changed his surname from Angel to Allen officially by deed poll in 1976, the jury was told. 

The court earlier heard evidence from Ross McOmish, a passport officer from Newport, Wales. 

Mr McOmish was called into the 2001 investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police to search the records of the Passport Office, which stretch back to 1909. 

He was instructed to look for records for Patricia under her maiden name Blacker, her first married name Walker and also as Patricia Allen. 

He said: "She was issued with a passport in the mid-1950s as Pat Blacker, and then reapplied for another passport as Pat Walker in 1966." 

Mr Evans asked when that passport would have expired, to which Mr McOmish replied: "In 1971, and there is no record of a renewal after that date." 

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

Accused Allen Faked Suicide
Western Morning News - 6th December 2002

The chequered criminal career and the "Reggie Perrin" disappearing act of the man alleged to have murdered his wife and children 27 years ago was laid before a jury yesterday. 

Exeter Crown Court heard that 68-year-old self confessed womaniser John Allen had convictions for bigamy, deception, fraud, criminal damage and theft from his employers. 

In 1972 he was jailed for three years at Manchester Crown Court for stealing mail and burning it during a postal strike. 

As long ago as 1968 Allen was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for three years after admitting larceny and asking for 116 other offences to be considered. 

And as recently as May 2000 Allen had been convicted of 13 offences of theft from his employer and one of deception. 

His counsel, John Aspinall, QC, also conceded that Allen had done "a Reggie Perrin" at Beachy Head. 

He had left a pile of clothes on the beach in 1967 faking his own suicide and had emerged to change his name from Angel to Allen. 

He later officially changed names by deed poll. 

Earlier the court heard that his wife Patricia Allen did not have a valid passport at the time she vanished from Salcombe in 1975-and neither did her children. 

Allen, now of Poole in Dorset, has denied murdering Mrs Allen and their two children, Jonathan, seven, and Victoria, five. 

A special investigator from the passport office in Newport said he had carried out searches in the name of Patricia Allen and she did not have a passport at that time. 

Ross McCoysh said he had also searched under the names of Blacker, Walker (Patricia's first married name), Angel and Simone and they revealed nothing either.

He told the jury that he had carried out similar checks in all those names in relation to Victoria and Jonathan and had also drawn a blank. 

When he was cross examined by Mr Aspinall he agreed that it was relatively easy to obtain a false passport. All that was needed was a copy of a birth certificate, a photograph and a signature of someone to confirm the photograph was a good likeness of the person applying for the passport. He said random checks were now carried out but he had no knowledge of the procedures in force in 1975. 

Another witness, Margaret Scott, said in a statement read to the court that she remembered Mrs Allen having a relationship with an American airman, John Simone, and that she had gone to the United States with him with the idea of them setting up home together. But when she got there she had found out that he was married and the relationship had ended in failure. 

Mrs Scott said she understood that Mrs Allen had had her passport confiscated and she was forced to leave the country and leave some of her clothing behind. 

A former waiter at The Marine Hotel in Salcombe, Kenneth Hassell, said he got to know John Allen quite well and he remembered an occasion when he turned up at the hotel looking less that his usual confident self. 

Mr Hassell said he looked dishevelled and he had scratches on his neck and the bottom of his chin. There were three marks there and he also had a bandage on his left wrist. 

Allen told him that he had had an accident in the garden. 

Cross examined by Mr Aspinall, the witness said he had not spoken to the police in 1975 but first made a statement about two months ago. 

He agreed that at the time of the disappearances there was a lot of gossip in the hotel about how Allen might have murdered his wife and children. 

He said he was involved in that but had never spoken before about the scratches and bandages. 

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

Brazilian turns up alive and well a year after his 'burial'
Ananova - 8th January 2003

A Brazilian man who was believed to have died and been buried a year ago startled relatives by turning up alive. 

The family of Sebastiao Fidelis, 43, thought he had been buried in the town of Campo do Meio. 

Mr Fidelis had been missing for two months in November 2001 when his wife recognised a dead body as being him, Jornal da Tarde newspaper reports.

But a year later he was found wandering in the town's streets by a family friend and taken home. He had lost his memory and said he had been walking for months trying to find his family. 

Mr Fidelis will now have to fight in court to have his death certificate annulled. 

The grave where his family thought they had buried him has already been knocked down.

Funeral Rehearsal No-Show
ImpactLab.com - 19th March 2007

Amir Vehabovic, 45 of Bosnia, faked his own death just to see how many people would attend his funeral.  Then he sent out irate "thank you" cards!

A Bosnian man has written to all his friends to complain after only his elderly mum turned up for his funeral.

Amir Vehabovic, 45, faked his own death just to see how many people would attend.

He then watched from the bushes as only his elderly mum turned up for the burial in the north Bosnian town of Gradiska.

In the letter to the 45 people he invited to the burial he said: "I paid a lot of money to get a fake death certificate and bribe undertakers to deliver an empty coffin.

"I really thought a lot more of you, my so-called friends, would turn up to pay their last respects. It just goes to show who you can really count on."

Gambling 'Reggie Perrin' Jailed
BBC News - 30th January 2008

A gambler has been sent to jail for stealing a dead friend's identity in a bid to escape his £50,000 poker debts. Norman Kay, 63, of Courtenay Terrace, Starcross, Devon, had planned to disappear and secretly meet up with his wife under his new name. 

Kay had earlier pleaded guilty to improperly obtaining a passport, making false representations and attempted deception at Exeter Crown Court. Judge Jeremy Griggs sentenced Kay to nine months in prison. 

Kay was in debt after losing in high-stakes poker games, and decided to resurrect himself as Christopher Francis, a friend who was born the day before him and had died in 1974, prosecutor Emily Pitts told the previous hearing.

He obtained a passport, a birth certificate and a National Health Service medical card in the name of Mr Francis, together with his National Insurance number - with the aim of obtaining money from the Benefits Agency.

The court was told Kay's plan was to do a "Reggie Perrin", move abroad and live off benefits under a different name. 

But benefits officials and police caught up with him when they realised he was living a double life in Sheffield and Devon. 

Defence counsel Piers Norsworthy said Kay was in poor health, suffered from depression and turned to poker on a large scale, which landed him in debt. 

"He felt useless as Norman Kay and in sheer desperation decided that Kay would cease to exist and Christopher Francis would be reborn," Mr Norsworthy said. 

Sentencing Kay, the judge told him: "You were trying to escape from your £50,000 gambling debts and were using the identity of a dead friend who had been known to you for many years. 

"The authorities are clear this type of activity must be eradicated. If and when people are found out they will receive immediate prison sentences." 

How Harry Gordon made the Darwins look like amateurs
Daily Mirror - 26th July 2008

Harry Gordon could have written the manual for John and Anne Darwin ... he'd been dead for five years before the cops caught up with him.

The Aussie businessman rowed out to sea, faked his death and went on the run for years before being caught and jailed. And the wife who'd gone along with his life of lies was jailed with him.

Along the way, he bumped into a shocked brother who believed he was dead - and married another woman bigamously.

Harry's tale makes John and Anne Darwin's escapades with canoes and Panama look like child's play.

Like John Darwin, Harry spent five years playing dead, at one time bizarrely taking a job in a crisp factory in Wigan, Lancs.

Only recently released from prison, he has a grim message for the Darwins who were each jailed for six years on Wednesday.

"No matter how bad life may seem right now, it will only get worse," he says. And Harry should know.

Like John, he faked his own death by using a boat accident as cover. Using false ID, Harry ran away to live a lie leaving his brothers and sisters to come to terms with their grief.

And like the Darwins, the law eventually caught up with him - in 2005 he was jailed for the dramatic deception. His ex wife Sheila was sentenced to home detention for her part in the plan.

Now that he's served a year of his 18- month sentence, he's had to face the relatives he deceived and exclusively tells the Mirror how he's rebuilding his life and relationships after coming back from the dead.

Harry, 58, says: "When I first heard the Darwins' story, I shuddered because the similarities with mine were astonishing.

"I know what hell they'll face in jail. But worse, I know that life gets worse once you've served your sentence. The shame of being a public disgrace never leaves you."

While an obsession with money lay behind the Darwins' callous decision to convince their two sons that John had drowned in the North Sea near their home in Seaton Carew, Harry's disappearance was driven by fear.

Once a millionaire businessman, he claims he was being threatened by gangsters trying to extort money and felt forced to take drastic steps to escape.

In June 2000, Harry left his wallet, mobile phone and empty bottles of champagne in his speed boat which lay adrift near his home on the Karuah estuary in New South Wales, Australia.

He rowed across choppy waters into the night in a flimsy rubber dinghy, and under a cloak of darkness made it back to shore where a van he'd stocked with clothes and £42,000 in cash lay hidden in the bush.

Sheila, his wife of 25 years, knew of his plan and agreed not to tell authorities, as did his daughter.

While local police scratched their heads in puzzlement at how a man could simply disappear off the face of the earth, Harry lay low in his van and a Sydney seaside hotel.

Using a fake passport, he eventually fled to Spain and then Wigan in Lancashire where he worked in a crisp warehouse.

But Harry soon tired of wet Wigan and eventually settled in New Zealand where he sold garages and project homes.

Despite the lack of body, a coroner eventually declared John dead in June 2001 and a life insurance claim for £1.75 million was submitted. This time, unlike the Darwins', the insurance company did not pay out, and his wife Sheila wisely didn't push it.

"That was the real deception. If I'd left a note and said I'd disappeared to start a new life, it wouldn't have been so bad. But the big mistake was pretending I'd died. That's when I crossed into a criminal state."

Harry's new name, blue contact lenses and buckets of nerve meant his scam worked perfectly for years.

He fell in love with Auckland social worker Kristine Newsome, who agreed to marry him and his carefully constructed new life seemed better than he ever imagined - until an incredibly coincidental meeting on a New Zealand mountainside in May 2005 blew his cover. Harry says: "I'd met and fallen in love with Kristine and we were enjoying a stroll hand-in-hand.

"Then incredibly we passed my brother Michael who was walking the other way. Thinking he'd seen a ghost, he did a double take, walked back and said, 'Is it really you?' I said, 'Of course it is. But look, it's inconvenient to talk right now. I'll call you in a few days,' and walked on.

"I told Kristine he was just an old friend, and later told her lies that I was on a witness protection scheme. I desperately didn't want to lose her."

In fact Harry had bigamously married Kristine, but by now his brother had gone back to Sydney where he confronted Sheila, Harry's legitimate wife, and urged her to go to the police. Harry's cover was blown.

"It was such an ordeal having to face my new wife and tell her who I really was. Everything came crashing down."

Harry pleaded guilty to false representation and conspiracy to defraud the insurance company in November 2005. Sheila received a five-month home detention sentence for being in on the act, but their daughter - who always believed his witness protection story - escaped jail. "Prison was hell for me, and will be for the Darwins. Prisoners will already know what they've done and will threaten them for money. They won't get any respect for their crime, which makes them look weak. And they could even be beaten by other inmates, just as I was.

"And it's horrendous to be surrounded by so many amoral people. You start to cherish your family relationships even more, but John and Anne have already lost theirs. Their sentence is far bigger than mine, and I hate to say this, but it doesn't get any easier on the outside, once you've served your sentence.

"Your reputation has been forever shredded and you're permanently ashamed. So they have no cause to be optimistic." Did his own family forgive him?

"My brother, two sisters and I have a cordial relationship, but I'm the youngest by far and we were never all that close.

"My first wife Sheila has moved on and has a new life with someone else. Good for her. My daughter forgave me and has given me a grandson. And I married Kristine, for real this time, after she put me on a year's probation to see if I had any more hidden secrets.

Friends helped me get back into business when I got out of jail, although of course customers can be circumspect about dealing with me when they hear my story. And I'm not as wealthy as I was - but I'm comfortable.

More than that, I'm happy, lucky and very grateful."

There is talk of making Harry's life into a movie, but for now he is working hard to pick up the pieces of the life people believed ended seven years ago. Harry says: "I've spent most of my life being very conventional, and that's what helped medisappear bcause when you're a middlea gedbalding man you become invisible.

"I'm at an age when people start popping off anyway.

"But now I will always be defined for that one action. I'll always be known as the man who faked his own death.

"Of course I regret doing it, it was utter stupidity. But I'm lucky that the people I love most forgave me, and I had lots of loyal friends and a loving family who stood by me.

"I'm not sure the Darwins will be so lucky."

Jail For Suicide Faker Accused Of Sex Attack
Mail On Sunday - 20th September 2008

By Chris Brooke
Last updated at 3:02 AM on 20th September 2008

Mark Bailey's rucksack left near a cliff top after his faked suicide attempt

A man who carried out a Reggie  Perrin-style fake suicide to start a new life has been jailed for 12 months.

Mark Bailey, 44, who was under investigation by police for an alleged sex assault, left behind a rucksack containing four hand-written notes to family members and police at a cliff top.

Unlike the BBC sitcom, in which Leonard Rossiter’s Perrin character lasted for three seasons in the 1970s, Bailey’s deception was quickly exposed and he was arrested within 24 hours.

A huge air and sea search was launched after he rang emergency services pretending to be a passer-by who had found the rucksack.

He told them he feared that someone had leapt 200ft into the North Sea near Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

Suspicions were aroused when police traced the mobile used to make the 999 call and discovered it was registered to Bailey himself.

He was arrested 30 miles away on a train at Goole railway station. He gave police his new name, Shane Dowling, but officers weren’t fooled.

Unemployed Bailey, whose family life was said to be in turmoil, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at Hull Crown Court.

Passing sentence, Judge Simon Jack said the attempt to fake his death was ‘fairly short-lived’ and his motive was ‘to get away from it all’.

But the crime was a serious matter warranting a lengthy jail term, he added.

The court heard Bailey, from Rotherham, was pretending to go on a coastal walking holiday when he put his plan into action on June 5 this year.

He left a rucksack with clothes, toiletries and boots near a cliff edge and dialled 999 to alert the authorities to his apparent death.

Bailey put on a camouflage jacket and stayed around to ensure the report was taken seriously.

Just like Reggie: Leonard Rossiter played Reggie Perrin, who faked his own death in the 1970s sitcom 

He was even spoken to by police who arrived to investigate the missing person and gave his name as Shane Dowling.

Officers found suicide notes in envelopes to his partner, five-year-old daughter, parents and police.

The note to his daughter said: ‘Daddy had gone to Jesus and Mary singing to all the children.’

Bailey left an empty bottle of spirits and a note to his elderly parents saying:

‘Forgive me for what I have done. I have disappeared and I’m ashamed of it. I’m sorry, I have got to do what is best. My life is over.’

Police and the Coastguard searched the shore, helped by RNLI volunteers, but routine police inquiries revealed Bailey was on bail under suspicion of a serious criminal offence.

Paul Genney, defending, told the court: ‘He wanted to get away from everything. Bearing in mind he was faking his own suicide, there was some planning but he used his own mobile telephone. 

'It was not the most brilliant piece of sophistication.

‘He was under pressure and he was not up to it. He is not an unintelligent man.

‘He is hoping to put his time in prison to good use and take what courses he can. In the long term he aims to get back to college and get some further qualifications.’

Missing man arrested in Spain on suspicion of faking his own death
The Guardian - 13th August 2009

Police say Jenaro Jiménez Hernández, who disappeared while fishing more than a year ago, was hiding in South America

Tom Worden in Barcelona

The only trace police divers found of businessman Jenaro Jiménez Hernández was a single size 11 flipper. For more than a year, his family were convinced he had died in an accident while spearfishing off Spain's Atlantic coast.

But rumours in the Andalucian city of Cádiz persisted that Jiménez had faked his own death and fled abroad to escape heavy debts. Early yesterday morning, 16 months after he disappeared, the gossip was proved correct: Jiménez, 42, was arrested in Madrid on suspicion of fraud after stepping off a plane from São Paulo, Brazil.

Much to the shock of his wife, Anabel, who was eight months pregnant when her husband went missing, police believe he had been hiding in Paraguay all the time.

Jiménez was last seen leaving his home at 7am on Sunday 13 April last year to go fishing off Los Alemanes beach, near Tarifa, on the Costa de la Luz.

When he failed to return that afternoon, his wife called the civil guard who found his BMW car abandoned by the coast.

His wallet with ID was inside the vehicle, but his scuba suit and fishing gear were missing.

A four-day search by land, sea and helicopter failed to find any sign of the businessman, apart from the flipper, discovered by a police diver. Moroccan authorities were contacted in case a body washed up on their shores.

His disappearance left the couple's young son fatherless, and a month later Anabel gave birth to a baby daughter.

But in a case echoing that of John Darwin, the British canoeist who had faked his own death, detectives were not entirely convinced there had been an accident.

Several people reported that Jiménez had disappeared owing them large sums of money, reportedly up to ¤120,000 (£103,000) and a number of complaints were filed against him at a local court. His businesses, including two construction companies, were said to be struggling.

Although the idea he was dead was never officially rejected, an international arrest warrant was issued. A month ago Jiménez contacted a close friend in Spain to say he planned to return home and hand himself in. Police were waiting for him when he arrived, looking tired, at Madrid's Barajas airport.

His wife has said she never wants to see him again, according to the newspaper ABC.

Detectives believe Jiménez never went fishing, but instead cycled 50 miles from Tarifa to Gibraltar, then flew to South America on a false passport, taking a large sum of cash with him.

A year after the disappearance his father, also called Jenaro, gave an interview denying his son had faked his own death, dismissing the continuing rumours as "sour grapes".

He told the Diario de Cádiz newspaper: "If one day we find out he is in Ecuador, we will say he is a bad son, and he will have to give explanations to his wife and to us, his family. But to nobody else."

The courts, however, may disagree.A police spokesman said Jiménez spent Wednesday night in a cell before appearing before a magistrate today on suspicion of fraud, unlawful appropriation and possessing false documents.

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