Saturday, January 24, 2009

SAS poser found dead

The fantasy life and lonely death of the SAS veteran who never was

He professed to have been a member of Britain's secretive and elite Special Air Service, writing an account of his time in the Hindu Kush and other places in Afghanistan, training the mujahideen to fight the Soviets during the invasion in the late 1970s. But after selling 50,000 copies of his book Jihad!, Tom Carew was exposed as a fantasist fixated with the SAS whose real name was Philip Sessarego.

This week, the tale of the man whose Walter Mitty-style fictions caused him to be despised by real members of the SAS - who rarely speak of their time in "the Regiment" - took a strange, and final, twist when it emerged that a decomposed body discovered in a rented garage in Antwerp is believed to have been his.

The corpse had lain in the wooden lock-up in the Ekeren area of the Belgian town since last summer, and was not discovered until Sessarego's landlord came banging at the door last November to ask why his rent had not been paid. In the garage, he found Sessarego, 55, lying with his few belongings, a small cooker and a bed. It appeared that the reclusive man had taken to living in the garage and had succumbed to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

The family is obviously upset.

Yesterday, neither his ex-wife Diane nor his children could be contacted. But in an interview with the Mirror in 2001, his daughter Claire, who Sessarego had abandoned as a child, said: "Basically, if I'm going to be blunt about it, I think he is a twat. He never served in the SAS . He's just a fantasist who's trying to make money on the back of other people's reputations ... There are a lot of former SAS men who have scores to settle with him - but they thought he was dead. Now they know different and I wouldn't care if somebody killed him because he's brought it all on himself."

Okay maybe not.

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