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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Shoplifter once posed as a duke from Spain

Anthonie Van Wilderoden and the pram he used to steal from Irish shops
Anthonie Van Wilderoden and the pram he used to steal from Irish shops
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

A businessman jailed for shoplifting 'to order' had previously posed as a Spanish duke and pretended to be state witness against the Dutch Hell's Angels in a series of crimes.

Last week in Dublin Anthonie Van Wilderoden (44) was jailed for two years with six months suspended for a professional shoplifting scheme where he stole high-value household goods.

The court heard that he used an improvised buggy to steal the high-end items which he then sold on the Donedeal website to unsuspecting customers.

But now it has emerged Van Wilderoden has a long and chequered history as a fraudster in central Europe.

It has emerged that he:

  • Previously acted as a state witness against members of a Dutch motorbike gang but the case collapsed when it emerged that he had fabricated his entire testimony;
  • Was admitted into the Dutch witness protection programme where he changed his surname and began calling himself the Duke of Aragon;
  • Arranged to marry a French-trained chef in a lavish ceremony, but was arrested the day before his wedding after it emerged that he hadn't paid the contractors;
  • Moved to Co Wicklow where he set up an edible insect company but carried out a spate of robberies across the country when his wife left him;
  • Now looks set to be the subject of a major European movie.

This week Van Wilderoden is getting settled into his new surroundings at Mountjoy prison. Jail will seem quite familiar for the Dutch conman who has 19 previous convictions across the continent.

Read more: Businessman caught using pram to shoplift Irish stores once posed as a Spanish Duke and tried to 'snitch' on the Dutch Hell's Angels

Dutch journalist Jos Verkuijlen, who has followed the case for broadcaster Omroep Brabant, said: "I saw Anthonie as a well-dressed man. He was very polite and very believable. I can understand he fooled a noble family and the justice department in his past."

In November 2009 he asked Tara Elliott - a chef born in Belfast and raised in Dublin - to marry him. His taste for the expensive lifestyle hadn't receded and, according to reports, he proposed with a platinum ring encrusted with 108 diamonds.

The pair had a civil ceremony on April 15, 2010, in Bruges, Belgium, and two months later they were planning to have the official wedding. The ceremony was going to be in the basilica of Oudenbosch - a replica of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome - and some 250 guests were invited.

He was arrested on the day before the wedding after suppliers became concerned.

The court heard that he later became involved with a business called Eddiebug with the help of a government loan. The company sold insects as a speciality foodstuff.

But his wife, who is now estranged, insisted that he "is not, and never has been, involved in any aspect of Eddiebug".

Irish Independent

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