A man who was jailed for 11 years for a £14 million property scam is now living deep in the Carmarthenshire countryside in a £1.1 million mansion and has been ordered to pay a seven figure sum to the courts.
The convicted fraudster Eric Fitzpatrick Danison, a 63-year-old originally from London, conned millions out of rich investors by operating a string of bogus investment and property companies. He raked in the cash between 2004 and 2009 after duping investors from both the UK and the US- including claiming he could secure flats in a prestigious Birmingham development.
Now released from jail and living in a luxury mansion in west Wales, he is facing a demand to repay £1.5 million. West Midlands Police tracked him down earlier this year to a home with several expensive cars, including a Daimler and an Alfa Romeo, on his driveway.
Danison’s rural retreat is on the outskirts of Llanarthne. The main house is well-concealed by woodland and it comes with two private lakes and 50-odd acres of land. The long drive which curves up to the house is guarded by solid-looking electric gates with keypad access and an intimidating camera keeping watch. Ominous yellow signs warn of CCTV and to “Beware of the dogs”. If you stand at the gates, you can hear the rushing sound of a small tributary to the River Towy which flows through the extensive grounds. The National Botanic Gardens are only five minutes away.
He bought the bolthole for £1.1m in 2016 when it was described as “magical” by the up-market estate agents which sold the property. With a new life in the countryside came a new identity – Danison bought the property under a new name: Sir Patrick Tristram Bijou. He was briefly jailed for two years in 2019 for breaching a financial reporting order.
Introducing himself as “His Excellency”, Bijou proclaims to be an investment banker, fund manager, philanthropist, venture capitalist and author. In fact, with a dozen novels to his name, he must be quite the busy man. That’s before you take into account his apparent roles as a judge at the International Court of Justice and International Crime Courts and a UN ambassador for world peace.
His fiction is quite a niche taste – racy novels in the style of Jilly Cooper with titles like Karmic Love and Undying Love – which are available on Amazon and Waterstones. One book, Wildflower, promises to be a “thrilling horror romance and steamy adventure” involving the “intricacies of how werewolves and vampires satisfy their emotional and sensual needs”. And there’s the “naughty and saucy” romance story of Paranormal Club, not to mention a story of “love, lust, sex and a complicated marriage relationship of an attorney couple” in Offence and Justice.
Meanwhile Danison’s consultancy ranges from cryptocurrency to investment advice – not a whole lot different to the scam he was jailed for in in 2010. His website is almost as creative as his writing – there’s a picture of himself sitting in a mock-up of the Oval Office. And he boasts about meeting “prime ministers and presidents” in online discussions in front of a computer-generated audience of realistic Zoom listeners.
The CPS only ever recovered £450,000 from Danison in 2010, but after receiving a tip off from a whistle-blower, police said they found he has £500,000 in the bank and a fleet of luxury cars including a £70,000 Alfa Romeo Giulia, a £60,000 Range Rover and a classic Daimler.
His existence in west Wales is “secretive”, neighbours have said and it seems few know about either Danison the fraudster or Bijou the author. When we stopped by to speak to Bijou, a woman told us over the intercom between the gate and the house: “No reporters”. After being pressed further, she said: “He’s not here at the moment.”
However, police have now demanded he repay nearly £1.5m or be sent back to prison. A judge at Birmingham Crown Court approved an order on April 13 that will see Bijou’s assets frozen. He must pay back £1.48m by the summer or he’ll have to serve a further sentence of over eight years.
Det Chief Insp Alex Pritchard, head of the economic crime unit, said: “It may be over a decade since we secured the initial confiscation order, but we never forget in our hunt to stop criminals benefitting from ill-gotten gains. Any unpaid sum hangs over a convicted criminal for the rest of their lives, in case further assets are identified.
“Once it was established Bijou had these, we set about working with the CPS on what is known as ‘uplift’ proceedings, to ensure he paid back the money owed. ‘This is one of the largest, if not the largest amount, we’ve ever secured this way.
“It shows criminals we’ll never let up, even years on.”