When Attwood died from a heart attack last month in Cavelossim, South Goa, where he lived, his grieving family and shattered staff would soon discover that the colourful hotelier they thought they knew so well was actually Andrew Paterson, 58, a Surrey solicitor who had fled Britain to escape a 1987 fraud charge.
But the truth came to light only at the very end. Tipped off that a man they had pursued for 24 years was being buried, the British police swooped down on Paterson’s funeral in South Wales.
“His funeral, attended by mourners from across the world, was held up at the last moment after police received a tip-off that the wanted man was back on home soil.
“Officers allowed the service to go ahead but delayed the burial at St Mary’s Church, Begelly, to take fingerprints which confirmed it was their man in the coffin,” a report in “The Daily Mail”, UK, said. The funeral director was quoted as saying: “It was an incredible end to a very dramatic life’.” Dramatic it was indeed. After fleeing the UK, Paterson became a timeshare salesman in the Canary Islands, a job he is said to have excelled in.
Teaming up with Australian timeshare developer John Spence, chairman of the Karma Royal Group, Paterson, known for doing business with a gin and tonic in hand, was soon handling the marketing of a growing business success story. The company that started out in Goa in 1994 operates 17 properties spread across India, Bali, Thailand, Greece and Australia. Karma runs four properties in Goa.
Stunned by the revelations after Paterson’s death, his Goa staff remains furiously loyal. One of his marketing assistants who worked with him for over 10 years said: “I don’t give a damn about his previous life or that he was wanted for a £17,000 con 24 years ago. I’m devastated by his death. To me he was St Mark, a boss who stood by you whatever happened, a marketing genius who had flamboyance and style.”
It’s ironic, she says, that the person she knew as Mark Attwood was wanted for a fraud amount that seems a pittance against the millions he was worth when he died.
Having beaten prostrate cancer it was tragic that Paterson died of a heart attack, the employee said.
The hotelier’s wife flew his body for burial in the UK in deference to his wishes.
After the police released his body his family had this inscribed on his grave: ‘Andrew Paterson also known as Mark Attwood’.