Express & Star

Conman dubbed 'The Fat Man' swindled the biggest players in the motor trade out of thousands of pounds

The late 1980s. The age of excess. Red braces, big mobile phones, and fast cars. And for a larger-than-life motor tycoon, with the gift of the gab and a ready supply of cut-price Ferraris, the sky was the limit.

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He was Mr Big in every sense of the word.

And Paul “The Fat Man” Dawes had it in spades – the swagger, the champagne lifestyle, the flash suits, the private helicopter. He left his business contacts in awe of his conspicuous displays of wealth, on one occasion gambling away £50,000 in a single night. His generous charitable donations saw him feted in high places.

Indeed, there were only two things that he lacked – the supply of cheap Italian supercars, and any wealth that he had genuinely obtained by his own honest endeavour.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And 28-stone, 6ft 5in Paul Dawes left nobody in any doubt that he was Mr Big in every sense of the word.

A con-man par excellence, he committed fraud on an industrial scale, swindling some of the biggest players in the motor trade out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. And he did it not once but three times, staging an elaborate disappearing act at the end of each deception.

Det Insp Dave Churchill, a long-standing veteran who specialised in serious fraud, said he had never known another criminal like him – and that was only at half-time in his remarkable criminal career.

Yet for all his trappings of wealth and power, it was a stolen photocopier which brought about his downfall.

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