The Many Lives of Samuel Alexander

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Born in 1939, Samuel grew up in Egypt while it was still a British protectorate. His family worked in medicine and pharmaceuticals, but faced real poverty. After moving from Alexandria to Cairo, they lived in an apartment block without electricity or running water. As part of the minority Christian group within the country, they often faced discrimination. Samuel’s father died when he was still only a young boy, and as per the custom, he was quickly faced with taking on responsibility for the whole family. He was a talented and bright student, and eventually enrolled at the American University in Cairo to study English Literature in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution and subsequent Suez Crisis of 1956. Placing top of his year, Samuel was presented with a government scholarship to Trinity College Dublin by President Abdel Nasser. He spent two years in Ireland from 1959, writing a thesis on Ernest Hemingway, before returning to Egypt to study his Masters degree.

Samuel receiving a prize at the annual Historical Society event at Trinity College Dublin

The Arab-Israeli war swept Egypt in 1967. A year later, Samuel suddenly disappeared. Without saying goodbye, and with just £10 in his pocket, Samuel left for London. His family didn’t hear from him again for several years and had no idea where he had gone or why. Samuel moonlighted in all manner of jobs, from hotels to restaurants, before finally taking up his first teaching post at the Sacred Heart Catholic School, Southwark, in 1972. In 1977, he completed his Diploma in Education at the University of London.

Samuel was a prodigious artist, favouring charcoal, chalk and pastels in particular. With an IQ of 168, he also enjoyed attending gatherings at Mensa, becoming a local secretary for his area. One of Samuel’s party tricks was reciting poetry and limericks by heart, and he would often deliver dramatic renditions of Wordsworth. A lover of classical music, Samuel developed a penchant for Simon and Garfunkel, and Mary Hopkins whilst living in London during the 1970s. His favourite songs were ‘Those were the Days’ and ‘Bridge over troubled water’.

Vying for greater fortunes, however, Samuel began speculating on the stock market. When he lost most of his gains in the stock market crash of 1987, Samuel sought other ways to make his money back, using various aliases to cover his tracks. Another big loss came with the fall of Marconi in 2001.

In 1985, Samuel met a new love interest during a morning commute. She was 19 at the time, while Samuel was 46. Two years later, Mark was born. Mark’s mother often saw Samuel with other women, and would even be introduced to them as Mark’s au-pair. After years trapped in an increasingly abusive relationship, she eventually left the family home in 1995, marking their formal separation. Samuel, determined to punish her, told his son that she had died of cancer, allowing her only to catch fleeting glimpses of Mark from a distance before eventually shutting her off completely.

In developing ever more elaborate money making schemes, Samuel became increasingly paranoid about being caught, slowly retreating from his active social life and cutting people off in a bid to preserve the secrecy of his activities. One friend described how “Sami’s attendance at Church became less frequent and eventually stopped. I am not aware of any reason for this. I attempted to contact him but unfortunately, it was his choice and request not to get in contact with him again“. While they were still together, he had prevented his partner from talking to neighbours for fear that she might give away compromising information. The level of control exerted on the young girl was so great that she was prevented from telling her own family where they were living, and even kept her pregnancy hidden from them for 2 years. Samuel inculcated Mark into similar habits as he grew up in their countryside retreat. Although a loving father who clearly doted on his son, Samuel had a violent streak and became notorious for public outbursts of rage. Neighbours were terrified of his behaviour and gave him a wide berth.

At Mark’s trial, one neighbour recalled how “Sami was very unpredictable and rude, there were many occasions that he would upset me and my mother”. There was one incident when “two very young children were playing on his front grass. I had to rush out to them when I saw Sami come out of his house. He looked very angry and had a dagger type knife in his hand. It was the glint of the sunlight on the blade that really scared me”. Another resident related an incident of road rage, “I was scared about what Sami would do, I felt he was trying to hit me with his car, he looked so determined and angry

Mark emphasises the complexity of his father’s character, and remains a passionate advocate for him. There were many positives sides to him, and many found him charming and quick-witted. Nevertheless, his love for risk-taking remains the focus of our investigations today, as we try to uncover the truth behind his murder in 2009. Many, including Mark’s mother, believe his past may have finally caught up with him.

Samuel knew he had made “many enemies” over the years, as he confided in friend AH, who he once asked to “look after Mark for me” should anything “happen” to him. Samuel even kept a list of some of these ‘enemies’ in his address book. Mark’s grandfather has also described how Sami “could easily accumulate many enemies”. Indeed, one violent altercation with a tenant, who tried breaking into Samuel’s home, led to a criminal conviction.

We’ve plotted a list of properties used by Samuel over the years on the map above. Some were purchased under one of his aliases (e.g. El-Kalyoubi, Alexander). Others were purchased in the name of Mark’s mother, who was “in such fear of [Samuel] that she… gave him power of attorney” over her financial affairs. Samuel secured mortgages in her name without her knowledge, sold the properties without repaying them, and then left her laden with the debt. Fresh disclosures from Thames Valley Police in February 2022, for example, revealed forged letters written by Sami in the name of Mark’s mother, by which he fraudulently purchased and later sold 42 The Square, Hemel Hempstead, using a mortgage in her name. She had no idea at the time. Sami pocketed £42,712 in 2006 from this particular fraud, and went on to perpetrate a similar con with another property, 101 Elstree Road, also in Hemel Hempstead – making £52,000. 

42 The Square, Hemel Hempstead

These properties were used as addresses to register aliases with various public bodies without actually purchasing the property. Samuel would cruise around target areas in his car looking for unoccupied houses currently on the market, before claiming that his alias was a tenant there (e.g. Jacob). All of these properties became virtual bases for fraud. These properties were then used as ghost bases for frauds under his aliases. Bailiffs would turn up at the addresses only to find no-one. He would have mail addressed to an alias redirected from the property by Royal Mail to his own home.

In 2007, claiming his alias resided in Hemel Hempstead, Sami was eventually forced to appear as ‘Sami El-Kalyoubi’ in Winchester County Court over a £10,000 car debt. He told the Judge ‘Sami Alexander’ was actually his landlord and that he was merely renting the garage at 2 Prospect Close. In a bid to outwit the bailiffs, Sami even re-registered the car with DVLA to a flat Mark was renting in Winchester on his gap year. Appearing before the Judge at Winchester County Court, Sami claimed that he (‘El-Kalyoubi’) had now settled in Winchester himself. In another case, Sami told Judges at High Court in London he was just “a friend of the owner”. He’d fallen out with a tenant at 42 The Square, who retaliated by turning up at his actual home 2 Prospect Close, racially abusing him and vandalising his garden.

El-Kalyoubi Court Case

The map also shows a list of GP surgeries where Samuel registered himself under his various aliases, as well as the many schools at which Sami enrolled Mark as a child, presumably to bolster a new alias.

One victim of fraud described Sami as “basically a clever thief. [He] has meticulously planned to make easy money out of a naïve young girl and me“. He alleges that “my signature has been forged on the deeds of trust and the transfer of the mortgage” in order to place his step-daughter’s share of the property into Sami’s own name without her family realising.

At Mark’s trial, evidence was revealed by the police of intimate text messages found on Samuel’s phone, shortly before his apparent disappearance, “that said things like ‘spoil sport’, ‘sleep tight’, ‘Why are you blanking me?’, ‘Night, night, kiss, kiss’ and so on“. The Judge carefully set out the evidence to the jury:

“Of course, it is said that it appeared he was sending these sort of text messages or receiving them from various women, young women that he had been in contact through these sites online, which we know he visited as well. But they were not able to locate these subscribers for the these numbers”.

“That officer also was able to confirm from the computer reports that Samuel Alexander used a variety of profiles when he was online. Even if he used his own name, it would vary from Sami, Sam, or Samuel. Sometimes he used other names like Dave with the Forbidden Affair site, and various other names… another one he went on frequently was called White Label Dating”.

“She confirmed, the lady police officer, that throughout the period from April to July 2009 Samuel was regularly connecting onto such sites, and indeed had been using such sites for quite a long time prior to 2009. There were thousands of pieces of contact by him to such sites. One particular email went back to November 2006 to somebody called Irena saying ‘You say the sweetest things”, and so on'”.

“Also one of the numbers that was found on Samuel Alexander’s mobile was traced to a man… but he knew absolutely nothing of any contact with that particular phone number. He was the man who apparently sold SIM cards on and thought it was maybe one of those somebody had ended up using to have a phone call on 1 September with Samuel Alexander’s phone…”

“The computer expert… said there were various browsing sessions of internet sites between 1 – 4 September on Sami’s profile, most of that browsing was on adult dating sites or adult chat rooms… between 1 – 25 August there were a number of chat sites and adult contact sites, and also a significant proportion of the sites appeared to be sites portraying pornography, some of them depicting young women and teenage girls, but not underage girls.”

In summary, our investigations have revealed a great deal of new evidence previously unseen by the jury that demonstrates:

1) That Mark grew up in an environment of extreme privacy in which he was conditioned into maintaining total secrecy for his father and covering his tracks.

2) That Samuel was in the habit of cutting off contact with people, avoiding detection, and evading calls and letters when it suited him. Samuel could be expected to go away for periods of time without telling anyone where he was going.

3) That other possible motives existed for Samuel’s murder

4) That alternative suspects exist (and that the jury should have been made aware of this)

The first two points undermine some of the key arguments made at trial that Samuel’s disappearance in September 2009 was ‘out of character’, or that Mark’s perceived failure to ‘raise the alarm’ was motivated by a desire to conceal his death. This was the core thrust of the circumstantial evidence used by the prosecution to argue that Samuel died in September. If this is undermined, then their estimate as to his date of death is unreliable. All the forensic evidence supports Samuel being alive in October, it was only their use of the circumstantial evidence that brought that forward.

We now see how Mark’s reluctance to involve authorities, or divulge information to third parties like the neighbours, was reasonable in the circumstances. It would have been the last thing Samuel would have wanted Mark to do. With this new context in place, Mark’s behaviour has an innocent explanation.

More generally, the basic idea that the jury should have all available information in front of them is really important if they are to reach an informed decision. They didn’t know about Samuel’s secret life, or evasiveness; and they weren’t told about alternatives motives and suspects. From their perspective, Mark was the only person in the world who would have any reason to do this, and Samuel’s apparent change of behaviour only pointed to his death. They believed this because information was withheld from them. That isn’t just problematic, it is unjust.

Did you know Samuel under any of these aliases? We’re appealing to the public for any new information that may help us build a picture of his past, those he was in business with, and what may have led to his death. Please get in touch with us on our contact page, where you can also leave anonymous tips.

HMRC Disclosure

Mark successfully petitioned for the disclosure of data held by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in relation to his father’s aliases and financial activities. You can download a copy of the proceedings in the High Court from April 2020 for yourself below.

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