My conman lover, the FBI and a 3,000-mile dash for justice: By the time Chrissy Handy realised her son’s father had duped her out of her life savings, he had fled the country
- Chrissy Handy reveals how she gave her ex nearly £600,000 for his schemes
- February 2007, he was declared bankrupt and left the UK, stalling her legal case
- She has since told her story since and has publicised his crimes against her
In June 2003, I met Alexander Marc Alphonsus Nathaniel d’Ariken de Rothschild-Hatton. He claimed he was a financier and the illegitimate son of multimillionaire banker Edmond de Rothschild. The lies he told me seem preposterous now (including but not limited to the fact that he’d attended Oxford University by the age of 15 and had degrees in both engineering and economics but couldn’t describe his current position as it involved the Official Secrets Act).
My three children (I was divorced from their father Clive) took to him immediately, and we had a son together, Marcus. Over the course of the next three-and-a-half years, I gave him nearly £600,000 for his business schemes. It was safe, he told me, in Swiss investments.
Chrissy Handy reveals how she gave her ex nearly £600,000 for his schemes. In February 2007, he was declared bankrupt and left the UK, stalling her legal case
The truth was that ‘Alexander’ was plain Marc Hatton, an unemployed 49-year-old from Gloucestershire and an experienced conman with a criminal record who ‒ it later transpired ‒ was simultaneously deceiving several other women. By the time I realised the truth it was too late. In February 2007, he was declared bankrupt ‒ and escaped abroad. With Alexander out of the country, my legal case against him stalled. I was able to access his bank records to see where my money had gone – a BMW, flights, hotels, designer goods – but it didn’t necessarily mean I could get it back. The British police insisted their hands were tied, yet I couldn’t ignore the nagging idea that someone, somewhere, had information that would help me. Equally distressing was my certainty that he would be doing this to another family. If anyone was going to stop him, it had to be me.
I contacted the Daily Mail crime reporter Stephen Wright. He soon got the story of Alexander’s crimes out there and a week later I was on Lorraine Kelly’s TV show. The publicity did the trick and after the programme aired in 2008, the producer called to say they had received an anonymous call from someone claiming Alexander was on the east coast of America. But they hadn’t left a number, so I couldn’t follow it up. My then boyfriend Philip and I created a website to see if we could tempt the caller to make contact again.
Two months into the search, I received three emails: one from someone called Nate, another from a man called Bob Tyler, and one from Samuel Ricci. They turned out, respectively, to be the son, ex-husband and nephew of Julia Tyler, a wealthy 50-year-old divorcée from upstate New York. ‘This man lives at my house with my mom,’ wrote Nate. ‘Please help me.’ The second email was from Bob who had been amicably divorced from Julia and was concerned about Alexander’s influence on his ex and the safety of his children. Samuel, meanwhile, said his Aunt Julia, his mum’s sister, was getting ‘sucked in’ by ‘a snake’ who was now living at her home in Lincolndale, New York. None of these turned out to be the person who had called Lorraine Kelly’s producer, but when they’d googled Alexander, having become suspicious of him, they’d found my website.
However, when I telephoned DC Arkell, the detective with Cheltenham police handling the investigation, my hopes faded. It would be difficult for her to do anything, she said, as the police would need to apply for an international arrest warrant and an extradition order. This would take time, allowing Alexander to vanish again. It was hopeless.
Chrissy finally snared Marc outside a New York gym. She has since told her story since and has publicised his crimes against her
‘What if we went to the US and helped get him deported for overstaying his visa? Would that help?’ asked Philip. ‘You’d be handing him to us on a plate,’ DC Arkell replied. The following day, 11 April 2008, we flew to New York to begin our manhunt. We hired a private investigator, Gil Alba, who informed us that – at that precise moment – Alexander was at a gym 15 minutes’ drive away and that we could serve him with his bankruptcy documentation there. In order to lure him outside, Alba came up with the plan of going to reception to say that he’d clipped Alexander’s car and needed to show him the damage. Minutes later, he came running out, clad in pink gym shorts and with weights attached to his wrist. I was struck by what a ludicrous and pathetic figure he was.
‘Hello, Alexander. Remember me?’ I said.
The next thing that happened was bizarre and says much about the man’s inflated ego. Alexander strode up to me, bumping his chest into mine as if he was imitating a gorilla seeing off a rival. The scene would have been funny had so much not been at stake. The danger now was that he would disappear again, so I stuck the papers under his windscreen wipers. Next, I wrote a letter to Alexander setting out the situation: he must supply a statement of his assets to the UK Insolvency Service and contact the police in Cheltenham who wanted to speak to him regarding my allegations of fraud, misrepresentation and theft. I hand-delivered it to Julia’s home. It was clear that he’d secured himself another desirable address in the form of a detached house worth around £1.2 million in a wealthy neighbourhood.
Now there was no time to waste in alerting the US authorities to the fact that Alexander had overstayed his visa and was wanted for criminal activity in the UK. We ended up at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices at City Hall in Manhattan, an intimidating outfit with gun toting security guards. The officials weren’t friendly and they didn’t offer any words of comfort – they just told us to leave the case with them. After all this effort, it seemed I’d come up against a brick wall. My biggest fear was still that Alexander would disappear now that he knew we were tracking him.
The next morning, I was startled awake at 6am by the phone. It was Julia’s ex-husband Bob Tyler. ‘Morning, Chrissy,’ he said. ‘I thought you’d like to know that the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service went to Julia’s house this morning and arrested Alexander in his bath towel.’ Apparently, the arrest had been every bit the dramatic dawn raid that you see in crime dramas, with armed officers surrounding the house.
On 25 April, a week after Philip and I returned home, the FBI called to say that Alexander had been put on a flight to the UK, escorted by two US agents. The court case began on 22 February 2010 – seven years after I first met Alexander. He received a 15-year sentence for sexual offences against an underage girl, unrelated to me, and three years for all seven counts of fraud, to run consecutively. Eighteen years in total.
He was eventually released on licence in February 2021 – which galvanised me to write a book about my experiences. It is, I feel, imperative to warn others about this man. He is not allowed to contact me or Marcus, and at the point of writing I haven’t heard from him. I do not know where he is and I have no desire to, although I was informed in a phone call on 20 December 2021 by my victim liaison officer that he had asked for special permission to breach his licence. The permission was denied.
I am proud of my manhunt. Proud that I brought this man to justice. My hope in writing this is that I stop him hurting another woman in the way he hurt me.
- This is an edited extract from Seduced by a Sociopath by Chrissy Handy (HarperCollins, £8.99), to be published 23 June*