Saturday 25 November 2017

Burial halted as police swoop to fingerprint the corpse

Benjamin Wright

A BURIAL had to be stopped at the last minute after police received a tip-off that the dead man was a fugitive who had been on the run for 24 years.

Andrew Paterson, formerly of Tenby, South Wales, fled the UK after being accused of £17,000 fraud.

He had managed to evade police since 1987, under the alias of Mark Attwood.

The father-of-six later travelled the world setting up a number of successful holiday resorts, before dying at his home India from a heart attack last month.

His third wife decided to carry out his dying wish for Paterson to be buried in the Pembrokeshire village where he grew up.

However, police said his burial was halted on the day of his funeral, with officers taking away the 58-year-old's body for fingerprint checks.

A spokesman said: "Andrew Edward Paterson failed to attend Guildford Crown Court in 1987 to answer conspiracy to defraud charges.

"On October 31, 2011, HM Coroner for Pembrokeshire advised Dyfed-Powys Police of the sudden death of a male person in Goa, India, whose body was been repatriated to the UK for burial.

"The identity of this person was given as Mark Peter Frank Attwood and a legitimate passport was provided as identification.

"Due to some concerns as to the correct identity of the deceased, inquiries were carried out, which resulted in the deceased being positively identified via fingerprint comparison as being Andrew Edward Paterson.

"It would appear following Paterson's involvement in the fraud he has obtained a new fraudulent identity and been working abroad for much of the time prior to his death."

Police said the information about Paterson's dual identity came to light on the day of his funeral, which was to take place at St Mary's Church, Begelly.

"The funeral director contacted the coroner and referred the investigation to police," the spokesman added.

"The funeral took place, but the interment did not."

Following an investigation, officers found Paterson had managed to be a "very successful" businessman and worked as a sales director for the timeshare firm Karma Royal.

They also said he had been married three times and had obtained a fraudulent passport, which shaved seven years off his real age.

Paterson was finally laid to rest on Monday this week, and it is understood he had both names etched on his headstone.

Funeral director Stewart Treharne, who was instructed to carry out the arrangements, told the Western Mail he had never come across a situation like this.

"I was called aside by officers who explained the situation," said Mr Treharne.

"I spoke to the vicar and we decided it was important the service went ahead as planned, as dozens of people had come from all over the world.

"We referred in the service to both names and said that we had come to 'pay our respects to Andrew Paterson, known latterly as Mark Attwood'.

"That got us through the service, but obviously we couldn't go ahead with the burial."

Mr Treharne added that despite Paterson's dual identities, it was clear he was held in high esteem by many people.

"Whatever his history, he was a man who was loved as a husband, father and respected colleague," he said.

"We have now laid him to rest in the presence of his wife and other family members, in the name of Andrew Edward Paterson, also known as Mark Peter Frank Attwood."

The Rev Sarah Geach, who conducted the service, added: "The committal took place at the graveside on Monday, at which just Mr Paterson's wife attended.

"In the midst of all this amazing story are three grieving families and my concern is a pastoral one for them."

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