Handsome and talented, Darius Guppy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth – meaning he came from a very wealthy family in the upper echelons of influential British society. He made a spectacular nosedive into a five-year prison sentence owing to his rampant desire to accumulate personal wealth.
Named after the ancient Persian leader who conspired to assassinate other nobility, Darius Guppy can trace his English family lineage back to Devon in 1253. HIs mother came from a family in Iran of distinguished Islamic scholars.
A friend in London who served more than two decades in prison met Guppy in prison. He told me a few details of the criminal activities of the inmate and the circles of the privileged elite Guppy moved among and mentioned Guppy’s autobiography.
I bought the book, written in 1996, shortly after his release from prison. Guppy gives a candid account of his life from birth in London in 1968 to 1996.
Guppy attended the French Lycée in London, Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford to read History and French. At Eton, he became a close friend with Charles Spencer, the brother of Princess Diana, and later the best man at the wedding of Spencer.
At Oxford University, Guppy joined the exclusive club of 24 members called The Bullingdon, noted for its gross extravagance and vulgar attention seeking behaviour. Bullingdon dinners with champagne and wine cost £400 (£1200 in today’s money) and their ‘uniform’ cost £1000. Undergraduates elected to the club with Guppy in the same year included old Etonian and Oxford graduate Boris Johnson, the current UK Prime Minister.
After uni, Guppy worked as a bond dealer in the City of London. He wrote he ‘hated facing neon blips on a flashing commuter screen’ and ‘pay-packets as the only topic of conversation; and described bond dealers as living ‘depressing lives.’
During this period, Nicholas Guppy, his father, invested his money in Lloyds Bank to become a ‘Name’ along with others from the wealthy elite who saw an opportunity to make substantial returns as a Name provided they pledged themselves to cover losses. Lloyds got itself into a financial crisis losing £2.3 billion in 1990. Lloyds sent Nicholas Guppy a bill for £1.3 million (around £3.3 million in 2021).
His father slowly began paying off his huge debts to Lloyds. By late 1998 his father had to sell his estate in the New Forest and their two homes in Chelsea to repay the debt to Lloyds forcing him to move into a small, rented cottage. Guppy seethed with anger at losing his childhood home.
Darius Guppy told himself would get revenge against Lloyds.
From his days at Eton, Guppy and throughout his adult life he appears always prone to rage. The memoir gives regular examples. Guppy asked his friend Boris Johnson for the home address of News of the World report, Stuart Collier, so he could get Collier beaten up. The recorded message was later leaked to the press.
From start to finish of the book, Duppy comes across as one who wants a spoon made of diamonds in his mouth. He lied, cheated and threatened others to get his way.
The same message has gone out for 2500 years – nobility does not come through birth. This review is another reminder to readers.
The Path to Prison
Guppy and his close friend Ben Marsh decided to start dealing in gems by buying precious stones firstly in Columbia, smuggling them into Britain and selling them for a handsome profit in Hatton Garden, London. They made $6000 on their first trip, excluding expenses. At weekends, he went out with Charles Spencer and others shooting duck and peasant.
Guppy and Marsh decided to go into buying gold bars in London and smuggling them into Bombay (Mumbai), via Ishan Dutty, an investment banker in the Bombay and later in the City of London. He would handle the smuggled gold bars upon their arrival in the docks in Bombay. Later, Guppy hired a man named William Hall, a professional bully along with six heavies, to threaten an Indian dealer, named Goutti, who owed Guppy and Marsh £250,000. Guppy rang Goutti in India and told he would have him “gutted like a rabbit” unless he returned the money. Goutti found the money when Hall and the heavies arrived on his front doorstep.
Guppy and Ben Marsh desire to make even more money took a further step into the murky world of criminality. The two men flew to New York with Concorde and booked into the Halloran Hotel in the city in a pre-arranged robbery in their hotel room of (on paper) gems valued at $3 million. They hired a Peter Risdon for $10,000 plus expenses to hold them up in their hotel room at gunpoint, fire a bullet into the bed, tie them up and flee with the ‘jewels.’
Guppy and Marsh fooled the New York Police. Also conned, Lloyds Bank gave them a cheque on 12 April 1990 for the value of gems at £1,820,419 (£3,900,00 in 2021 or US $5.6 million), which the two criminals divided between them.
A year later, the karma of Guppy and Marsh caught up with them. Risdon, Dutty and William Hall turned informers to get off prison sentences or related issues.
Between them, they told London police that the two men engaged in the £1.8 million insurance fraud in a New York hotel, gold smuggling into India and Hall going to India to hire heavies to threaten Goutti.
After the Trial
At the end of the London trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, which received much publicity in the UK, the jury found them both guilty. Judge Brooks sentenced them to five years imprisonment and a fine of £539,000 each. If they defaulted, they would have to serve another three years. The judge also banned them from being directors of a company for 10 years.
Guppy liked to portray himself as fighting the system but the system he fought is rife with greed, violence and self-delusion. Guppy’s account of his behaviour and his lifestyle reveals himself as an embodiment of the ‘system.’ No doubt, he might come across as affable and sociable, like Boris Johnson, but a person is known by their actions not by momentary pleasing features shown in conversations.
In the book’s Epilogue, Guppy writes he was:
“…motivated by my anger, which I believe was justified at the way the authorities acted and the dishonest charade that they put on for the benefit of the public and the media.”
“Do I feel sorry for the pain I caused to those I love? Yes, deeply.”
“Do I accept the moral authority of those who have punished me? No.”
Excuse me. Dishonest charade? No acceptance of moral authority? Who are you writing about? Mr. Guppy?
He also writes:
“What I did was wrong and there is no debating the fact. My motives may even have been justified.”
Justified? I googled the name Darius Guppy after reading the book. He moved to South Africa after his release from prison. He always kept his criminal activities, as long as possible, secret from his wife, who gave birth to a baby daughter a few months after he was sent down.
A Time for Reflection
Wife, husband, children, family, friends, lawyers, media and more may have different versions of events in the family home and garden of the Guppy’s.
In 2006, the media reported that Darius Guppy got into a punch-up in the garden of his home in South Africa with Earl Spencer (brother of Princess Diana) leaving the Earl with “two black eyes, a broken cheekbone and concussion.” In 2021, parishioners at the Roman Catholic church told the media that they could see Guppy’s gun in his holster during the Mass.
A South African newspaper had a report in 2021 of the impending divorce of Guppy from his wife, Patricia. The report said Guppy “now stands accused of being “controlling,” “volatile and erratic” and of “physically and verbally abusing” Patricia (54), whom he married in 1991.
If the experience of his wife is true, then once again the anger of Guppy due to not getting what he wants has brought about a downfall in his relationship. His business ‘associates’ used the ‘system’ to get a ‘divorce’ from him. His loyal wife seems to be doing the same.
If the report is accurate, he surely needs to reflect. A constant unresolved problem for people will keep arising, such as unresolved anger, which can have lifelong consequences unless addressed.
A first step might be anger management classes, training in Non-Violent Communication, metta (loving kindness) meditations and practices of empathy and equanimity. He is 57 years old. Is he going into old age unloved and angry?
Or, has the media and his wife harshly judged him? An unfounded reputation can stay with a person a long time. Those who are close at hand will know.
Eton, Oxford, City of London, business associates, his ‘posh’ friends and others let him down. Has he let himself down?
The book is a salutatory lesson for anyone involved in greed, violence and self-importance.
In this world, the karma you generate tends to come back.
May Darius Guppy learn this lesson.
May we all learn such lessons as well.
Above: Photo shows Charles Spencer and wife on their wedding day in 1989. Darius Guppy, wearing a large cravat tie, stands in back row far right facing photo. Prince Charles and Princess Diana are in the front row. Guppy faced criminal charges two years later.
Below: Bullingdon Club 1986. Darius Guppy stands fourth from right hand side of photo. Borish Johnson in front middle of photo with one hand on top of other.
ROLL THE DICE
A True Saga of Love, Money and Betrayal
Published 1996 by Blake Publishing, London 310 pages
ISBN 1 85782 1599.
Prince £4.70 on Amazon.