THE PHONEY VISCOUNT STRIKES AGAIN; He's Seduced a Trail of Wealthy Women and Left Them Furious and Impoverished. Now, Thickening at the Waist and Bald, Guiy De Montfort Has Done It Again

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL BRACCHI

AMONG the many treasured possessions at Guiy de Montfort's Sussex cottage is a framed letter. It begins 'My dearest Guiy' - and goes on to thank him for his participation in a charity event.

The typewritten note is signed Bill Clinton (as in the former President).

Elsewhere, there is a copy of his best-selling spy novel, a glossy brochure about his new media marketing company - highlighting his links with major stars - and copious documentation and photographs about other aspects of his rich and colourful life.

His father, as he is fond of pointing out, was a French nobleman; his mother a heroine of the Resistance. De Montfort himself - he sometimes uses the title Vicomte - speaks convincingly of his many adventures in the Foreign Legion, the British secret service, and hunting big cats.

True, his favourite tales are not always quite consistent. Was the wife, whom he claimed had been brutally murdered abroad, an Ethiopian princess or an East European aristocrat? Was it a tiger or a lion that had mauled him within an inch of his life (curiously, leaving no visible scars)?

If Jennifer Tootal, the woman he is romancing, is at all suspicious, she certainly isn't showing it. But then her engaging, pipe-smoking companion has established himself as a pillar of the community; becoming an enthusiastic member of the church after attending Bible classes for 'lapsed Christians' and throwing himself into the social life of the parish.

Mrs Tootal, 51, by way of introduction, is recently divorced. More to the point, she is very rich (she emerged from her marriage to a high-ranking retired serviceman with a six-figure settlement).

She is now about to move into de Montfort's (rented) whitewashed cottage in the village of Stonegate. There is even talk of marriage.

She wants to sell her [pound]300,000 detached home in nearby Wadhurst, where she lives with her two teenage sons, and, tellingly, she also cashed in an insurance policy - believed to be in the region of [pound]15,000 - shortly after meeting her boyfriend barely eight months ago.

But, as you have probably guessed, almost everything about Vicomte Guiy de Montfort - or plain Mr Graham Leaver, from Dartford, Kent, the son of a Royal Artillery NCO - to give him his real name and family lineage, is fake.

Nevertheless, his nefarious past is almost as astonishing as the elaborate lies which are his stock in trade. His record of deceit stretches back nearly two decades and spans two continents.

HIS VICTIMS are invariably the same: single, sometimes emotionally vulnerable, moneyed women of a certain age and social standing. Women, to be precise, just like Jennifer Tootal.

Most have been left nursing broken hearts and bank balances.

'Jennifer is an intelligent woman but she is completely besotted with Guiy,' says one concerned friend.

'She says that when she sells her house a substantial proportion of the equity will be put aside to buy her two sons, who are aged 17 and 18, a flat of their own. But everyone is extremely worried that the boys could end up with nothing.' But why would an intelligent woman - Mrs Tootal is a trained nurse - risk her family's future on a man she only recently met, to whom she has already, by all accounts, advanced at least [pound]15,000, and whose questionable motives she has now been appraised of?

She is the only one who can answer that; but she is not the first woman - nor perhaps will she be the last - to have her head turned by Guiy de Montfort.

In another age he would be called a 'cad' and a 'bounder'; the kind of velvet-tongued scoundrel immortalised on film by the late Terry-Thomas.

Indeed, like the actor, he once sported a pencil moustache.

Little is known of his formative years, except that he was the son of Bombardier Herbert Leaver and his wife Elsie, who died in 1988. …