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On Friday 8th March 2013, wealthy Mayfair socialite Roberto Troyan; a gregarious, fun and generous man who being gripped with grief and unable to cope placed his life in the hands of someone he felt he could trust - his financial advisor - and yet this greedy little man would bleed Roberto dry.
As many photos of the case are copyright protected by greedy news organisations (and I don't want to be billed £300 for copyright infringement again), to view them, take a peek at my entirely legal social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
I've added the location of 101 Mount Street, W1 where Roberto Troyan was murdered marked with a dark green !. It's by the words 'Mayfair'. To use the map, simply click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, such as King's Cross and Soho, you access them by clicking here.
I've also posted some photos to aid your "enjoyment" of the episode. These photos were taken by myself (copyright Murder Mile) or granted under Government License 3.0, where applicable.
Episode 68 - Roberto Troyan: Grief, Guilt and Greed
SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within London’s West End.
Today’s episode is about the wealthy Mayfair socialite Roberto Troyan; a gregarious, fun and generous man who being gripped with grief and unable to cope, placed his life in the hands of someone he felt he could trust, and yet this greedy little man would bleed Roberto dry.
Murder Mile is researched using original sources. It contains moments of satire, shock and grisly details, and as a dramatisation of the real events, it may also feature loud and realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 68: Roberto Troyan: Grief, Guilt and Greed.
Today I’m standing on Mount Street, W1; three streets south-west of the shoe-store where Seydou Diarrasouba was stabbed to death, two streets east of the Intercontinental Hotel where exiled Iraqi Prime Minister Abd ar-Razzaq Said al-Naif was assassinated, one street south of the Millennium Hotel where former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by incompetent KGB agents, and one street east of the cruel and painful abortion of Elsie Goldsmith - coming soon to Murder Mile.
Mount Street is pretentious little side-street in the heart of the exclusive district of Mayfair; enveloped by embassies, flanked by five-star hotels, peppered with millionaire’s penthouses and awash with tiny art-galleries, all with no customers, only three pictures and a zoned-out receptionist staring into space.
Surrounded by half-empty stores of designer this, exclusive that and shapeless tat by names no-one gives a shit about; on a street packed with Bentley’s, Rolls Royce’s, Lambos and even a bright gold Smart Car whose licence plate is worth ten times more than the car itself, Mount Street is wealthy but soulless, vacuous and dead. It’s like a wannabe Rodeo Drive only with drizzle, a stale St Tropez only with a sea of wigs and with so many face-lifts it looks like every local has been caught in an icy-breeze.
And with no litter, no dog-poo and no homeless people (as they know too-well that the residents are too tight-fisted to give them a quid, as that is why they are rich), Mount Street lacks any kind of life.
Situated half-way along is a four-storey red-and-brown-brick building at 101 Mount Street; a pristine mansion block with fifteen exclusive apartments, complete with a maid service and a concierge, all behind a shiny brass front-door and where the worst crime you could imagine happening might revolve around a poodle’s coiffure, a pair of red trousers and a deeply affronted man called Farquhar.
And although each flat is worth £1.3 million, flat six at 101 Mount Street was recently sold for a paltry £300,000. As it was here, on Friday 8th March 2013, having seen that Roberto Troyan was grieving, a greedy financial advisor would take everything, from his last penny to his final breath. (Interstitial)
Roberto was larger-than-life, gregarious, funny and astute, the kind of man where - once you met him - you could never forget him, and although he came from wealth, he was good, decent and caring.
Born in Italy in 1950, Roberto Charles Troyan was one of two children to Bob (a former US Army officer who later made his money in shipping) and Marie, a doting mother who he would never fail to call each and every day; and with his one sister Rosalie, they both enjoyed a happy and loving childhood.
Raised in the US city of Boston, although Robert (as he preferred to be called) would retain a Bostonian twang to his voice throughout his life, blessed with a flair for design and a deep love of Britain, having graduated from art school in 1983, Robert moved to London. But it wasn’t just his sweet face, twinkling eyes and mop of dyed red-hair which made him stand out, as amongst his many friends, it was his charm, his kindness and his talent. And although his life was good, it wasn’t complete.
That same year, Robert met 30 year old Anthony Feldman; a successful interior designer and architect from Johannesburg, with many high profile commissions and celebrity clients. And being partners in work, having found true love together, Robert & Anthony became partners in life.
As a couple, Robert and Anthony complimented each other beautifully, as with a passion for art and a love of antiques they lived in a stylish penthouse apartment in Hertford Street (Mayfair), furnished with fine art, plush carpets, intricate figurines and a painting by Picasso. It was a perfect partnership; with the fastidious and meticulous Anthony in control of the food, the fun and their finances, and the gregarious Robert like a beaming beacon of light, who made everyone who entered their home feel warm and welcome, bestowing upon them all hugs, compliments and kisses.
Robert & Anthony’s lavish dinners were infamous; a veritable who’s who of society, with Anthony as the pianist, Robert as the raconteur and the chilled champagne flowing freely. But being blessed with deep pockets and big hearts, they used their influence for good; raising funds for the homeless, the desperate and the penniless, being generous to everyone; whether celebrities, staff or strangers.
And although, being a big part of the social scene, they would holiday in a secluded cottage in Turkey, Robert only ever wanted to live in Mayfair, as here he felt safe… but sadly this was not the case.
Robert and Anthony were together for twenty-two years; they worked, ate and slept side-by-side and – being very much in love – they were inseparable. But as two gay men, although they lived together, the law didn’t see them as a couple and denied them any rights. So when the Civil Partnership Act of 2004 was passed, Robert and Anthony make it official and announced their engagement. Robert was blissfully happy, hopelessly in love and soon to be married, as now his life would be complete.
Only fate can be cruel…
In October 2005, a few months before their wedding, Anthony felt a few twinges in his muscles which he brushed off as just a bad-back, but as his health hastily deteriorated, upon seeing a doctor and getting some tests, Anthony was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.
On 10th December 2005, just five days after the law was passed, Robert & Anthony were married in a private ceremony in their Hereford Street flat surrounded by four bridesmaids and their closest friends and family. Eight days later, 52 year old Anthony Feldman was dead.
A memorial service was held at the nearby Grosvenor Chapel, and amongst a chorus of joyous songs and a sea of grieving faces, although Anthony was given the glorious send-off he truly deserved, being ashen-faced and distraught, Robert sobbed throughout and was barely able to stand. As with his husband gone, his love stolen and his heart broken, this larger-than-life character looked tiny and frail.
And as the invites stopped, the parties ceased and their friends drifted away, Robert was left alone.
Their spacious penthouse apartment was now a hollow joyless void; their fine art a painful reminder of twenty-two years together, their many photos like cruel glimpses back at happier times, and every old anecdote he once regaled his enraptured friends with, now lost, gone, never to be told again. And with his smell on the pillow, his clothes in the closet and his shoes by the door, everything reminded him of Anthony. As in the middle of their sumptuous suite – with his sweet smile sunken, his eyes red raw and his confidence crushed - Robert sat alone, as the walls which once rang with joyous laughter, now echoed with his solitary tears.
As the sole beneficiary of Anthony’s fortune, legally being a widower, the civil partnership had ensured that Robert’s financial future was secure, but physically and emotionally he was bankrupt.
So unable to escape the grief which hung in their apartment like a dense cloud of gloom, Robert moved from their spacious penthouse on Hertford Street into the more modest flat six at 101 Mount Street. And even though he had moved, the pain remained, as the grieving man struggled to cope.
Anthony was his everything; he handled the food, the fun, their finances, and - without him - Robert was at a loss. So with restaurants nearby, Robert would often eat out, and with his flat in disarray, he hired a maid, but with Anthony gone, being gripped in grief, his spending spiralled out of control.
Unable to find happiness, Robert shopped, but the art he brought only made him more miserable. Sometimes he partied, but the late-nights left him with nothing but bar-bills and hangovers. And as a kind and lovely man, he lavished his friends with gifts, but with no control, his life became blur.
The caretaker of 101 Mount Street said “Robert was visited by strange men in all hours of the day and night… each morning I’d take the black bin bags from outside of his door away, it always rattled with bottles”. And over time, unable to find fulfilment with sexual partners and bouts of heavy boozing, he turned to cocaine. Edward Brown QC of the Crown Prosecution said at the trail “He was a generous man who lived a chaotic lifestyle and with his finances in a mess, this left him open to exploitation”.
Wildly spending to conceal his grief, Robert’s life was spiralling out of control. He knew that. And with his bank account rapidly dwindling, he did the sensible thing, and sought out an experienced and respected advisor to handle his millions in the bank. And his name was David Jeffs (interstitial)
Originally from Peterborough, in 2008, Robert was introduced to David Jeffs, a financial advisor for a wealth management firm with a solid reputation called HFM Columbus. David looked as you’d expect a financial advisor to look; as with short dark hair, thick rimless glasses and a boyishly smooth face, unlike Robert he didn’t exude flamboyance; instead he was smart, quiet and bookish.
In a crisp white shirt, a plain blue suit and brown suede shoes, although his style hinted at a man eager to break away from the stuffy demeanour of a chartered accountant, flourished in Burberry scarf (tied in the way that GQ said was best) and clutching an old black leather briefcase with a brass clasp (not unlike something a Victorian doctor would carry), he hadn’t got the personality to pull the fashion off.
His dress-sense aside, 31 year old David Jeffs was experienced but unremarkable; although recently divorced, he lived with his fiancé and his six year old son in a tidy house on a quiet cul-de-sac in the pleasant village of Arnold in Nottingham. He had a car, a garden, a steady career earning him a decent salary of £53000 a year, and as expected from a financial advisor, his life was modest, safe and good.
Acting as his ‘financial concierge’, David started small, by organising Robert’s spending, sorting out his direct-debits and streamlining his standing orders, as even little purchase can make a big dent. With a sense of normality returning to his life, and eager to ensure the longevity of his wealth, David invested £1.2m of Robert’s money into Royal Skandia life insurance - a very stable long-term investment.
David Jeffs was a real straight-arrow; dull but indispensable, vapid but invaluable, staid but trusted. So much so, that against his bank’s wishes, Robert wrote David several blank cheques to invest.
By 2010, grief had taken its toll on Robert, and although he dressed at Ralph Lauren, had his hair styled at John Frieda’s and ate at Scott’s of Mayfair, having contracted a debilitating skin-disease, the steroids caused his weight to balloon. Being reliant on his maid to do his cooking, washing and cleaning, having packed on several stone, she also had to support him as he walked from his flat to the ground floor.
Robert was vulnerable, disabled and frail; an ailing man with an extravagant lifestyle, expensive tastes, a wild spending habit and an inexhaustible bank balance. And now, he was dependant on others.
By contrast, David Jeffs lived a modest life; one house, one car, one child and one girlfriend; with a nine-to-five job, working five days a week, with one holiday a year; and with his clothes by Marks, his food by Asda, his art from Ikea and occasional nights out at the flicks, there was no comparison.
Dealing with the finances of the rich and famous, David wanted to live a life of luxury, but being an unimaginative and risk-averse man, already living beyond his modest means with ex-wife and a child to support as well as several credit-cards, loans and overdrafts, he knew that life was out of his reach.
For David Jeffs, there would be no all-night parties, no stays in five-star hotels and no tables at Michelin starred restaurants, he would have no fleet of sports cars, no exotic holidays and no celebrity friends, with no champagne, no caviar, no chauffeur and no cocaine. He wanted the best, but the best he could achieve was mediocre. In comparison to Robert, David was nothing…
…and yet his client was rich, vulnerable, grieving and - best of all - trusting.
With complete control of Robert’s bank account, an oblivious client and several blank cheques, over the next two years David embarked on a shopping spree which would make a Saudi prince blush.
He spent £1100 at a VIP polo event, £1200 at the Chinawhite’s nightclub, £1400 on two rugby tickets, £19500 in one night at a Spearmint Rhino lap-dancing club (quaffing £400 bottles of Chrystal) and treating himself to two Lotus sports cars for £72500. And although this happened at the height of the recession, he claimed his new-found good fortune was solely down to his sound financial investments.
Being flush with cash, David holidayed in Las Vegas, Mauritius and Ibiza; dined-out at London’s most expensive hotels and restaurants, and in his modest home, he amassed a huge collection of guitars.
Using the blank cheques, David syphoned off £343000 of Robert’s inheritance into his own account, lavishing his fiancé with a £15000 wedding ceremony in October 2012, and – just a few weeks before Robert’s death – he used his ill-gotten gains to treat himself and his family to a trip to Center Parcs.
David had bled his cash-cow dry, but still he wanted more… as by February 2013, the financial advisor’s life was a mess, as with barely £6 in his bank account and in-debt to the taxman to £200,000, Robert’s wealth wasn’t just there to bail David out, but to cover his hopeless addiction to cocaine and ecstasy.
In early March 2013, David cashed another blank cheque for £80,000… but this time, it bounced.
Having confided to his maid Davey Aganon of his fears about his dwindling bank account, his evasive financial advisor and how he was unable to withdraw any cash, with the lease on his flat up for renewal that week, Robert requested an urgent meeting with David, the very next day at 3pm…
…the meeting would be short, as by then, Robert would be dead.
Friday 8th March 2013 was a classic British weekday; the sun was absent, the sky was grey and the gloomy grey streets were soaked by a persistent all-day drizzle.
At 2:28pm, arriving a full thirty minutes too early, David Jeffs walked into the Audley Pub at 41 Mount Street, a few doors down from Robert’s flat. He was dressed in a crisp white shirt, a plain blue suit and brown suede shoes, with a brown Burberry scarf, his old battered briefcase and black leather gloves.
Visible pacing back-and-forth in the bar, David slugged back a stiff drink to steady his nerves, as not only would he have to explain the missing monies to Robert and the bank, but with nowhere to turn, as the broke and hopeless drug-addict shook, he knew the lies would be unravelled, the thief would be exposed and the consequences (for his job, his wife and his life) would be huge.
At 2:31pm, David called Robert’s phone; as it often did, it went to voicemail: (rings) “Hi, this is Robert, leave a message”. (Beep) “Robert, it’s David, I’m a tad early, I popped by but you’re not in, so I’ll try again in a bit. Cheers”. Only this was a lie, he hadn’t been to the flat, this was part of his alibi.
Barely a few minutes later, David called at 101 Mount Street, he pressed the door-bell to Flat Six, the intercom crackled, he was buzzed in by Robert, and as the CCTV caught him enter the communal hall, behind him the brass-covered door closed and he ascended the stairs… out of sight. (Long silence)
At 2:45pm, having spent less than fifteen minutes in the building, David descended the stairs, alone, the CCTV re-captured him as he exited the street door and walked into Mount Street.
At 2:57pm, he made another call to Robert’s phone, again it went to voicemail; (rings) “Hi, this is Robert, leave a message”. (Beep) “Robert, it’s David, I still can’t get hold of you. I popped by but got no reply, so… erm… let’s rearrange okay? Cheers”. But again, this was a lie, and part of his alibi.
Hopping into a taxi, David caught the 3:15pm train from Waterloo and headed 45 minutes south to the suburban town of Guildford; the blackness of his gloves and the darkness of his blue suit disguising the oddly speckled stains which had splashed and splattered up his legs, arms and torso.
At 5:36pm, David entered a BP garage outside of Woking, he bought twenty black bin bags, two packs of wet wipes and spending ten minutes in the toilets, he exited dressed in a grey jumper, a light shirt, black trousers and carrying a half-full bin-bag. Later that day, having destroyed the blood-stained originals, he purchased an identical set of clothes – a white shirt, a blue suit, brown shoes and a brown Burberry scarf. And from there, he headed home to his wife and child… as if nothing had happened.
But something had happened…
…at 3.57pm, punctual as ever, Robert’s faithful maid Davey Aganon opened the door to Flat Six. As always, she called out his name to let him know she was there (“Robert”) but oddly, for a man who was kind and polite, he didn’t reply. And as a large and unsteady man who needed her assistance to simply descend a flight of stairs, it was unusual for him not to be in. So with each room spotless, no sounds heard, nothing out of place and no sign of Robert, Davey began her regular duties.
The kitchenette was small and pokey; being barely seven feet deep by six feet wide including the sink, cooker and sides, it stood only two people at a push; and with no windows, one door and being set dead centre in the flat, surrounded by three rooms, outside of these walls, the room was soundless.
As Davey entered the kitchenette, her path was blocked as the door was wedged. Being little, she pushed it hard only it wouldn’t budge, but through a crack, she saw on the floor a pair of legs slumped, still and silent. Concerned for her ailing employer, she called “Robert, you okay?” but he didn’t reply.
And then she noticed the blood.
Two builders working one floor above heard her screams, racing downstairs, they barged the blocked door with brute force, shoving Robert’s twenty-stone bulk aside, only to see a scene of utter horror.
Having been attacked from behind whilst graciously making a cup of tea for himself and guest, as a frail and disabled man who was barely able to stand (let alone defend himself from a frenzied and crazed assailant) Robert had been repeatedly battered about the head and the face with such force and ferocity, that – based on his injuries - initially the Police thought he had been shot. But he hadn’t.
Unable to evade the rapid savage blows which repeatedly rained down on the grief-stricken man - with his killer blocking his only exit, with nowhere to escape and with no-one to hear his cries - being trapped inside his tiny kitchen, Robert was beaten bloody by an addict with nothing more to gain and nothing left to lose. And as his last drop of life splattered up the shiny stain-steel surfaces and he slumped to the floor, being barely conscious, blood pooled about his head, as his killer fled.
The paramedics were called, but having suffered several deep fractures to his skull, his left cheek, his jaw and his eye sockets, 63 year old Roberto Charles Troyan was pronounced dead at the scene. (End)
With no break-in, no witnesses and nothing stolen, believing he had weaved an intricate alibi, David’s web of lies were uncovered by a trail of bank statements, an addict’s habit and several blank cheques. And with his clothes and the murder weapon missing, his guilt was proved by a single drop of Robert’s blood found inside the one item which David had failed to destroy - his old black leather briefcase.
On 20th March 2013, twelve days later, 36 year old David Jeffs was arrested and charged with murder. Being tried at Croydon Crown Court, although he pleaded not guilty on all accounts, the jury found him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to serve a minimum of twenty-four years in prison, with an additional six years for fraud to be served concurrently. Meaning he won’t be released until 2043.
Robert was a good man; kind, loving, generous and gregarious, but grieving his lost-love and struggling to cope as his health and his happiness was taken away (just as it had his beloved husband), he placed his life in the hands of someone he felt he could trust – his financial advisor - and yet, jealous of his client’s good fortune, David Jeffs - this greedy little man would bleed Robert dry.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
If you’re a murky miler, to stay tuned for another thrilling instalment of Extra Mile, where I may (if you’re lucky) look out of my window and shout “oi, slow down” to a passing boat and grumble a bit about holiday boaters. Ooh, exciting. But before that, here’s my recommended podcast of the week; which are American Slacker and Misconduct. (PROMO)
A huge thank you goes out to my new Patreon supporters, who are Jack Clark, Dominique Simpson, Kirsty Reynolds, James Rose and the Ben & Rosie from They Walk Among Us podcast. And a thank you to Kirsty MacPhee-Goode and family who came on my Murder Mile Walk and presented me with a rather lovely hand painted Murder Mile flower-pot full of lots of tasty tea and cakey goodness. Burp.
And a quick “hi” to everyone I met at the London true-crime meet-ups, which was hosted by They Walk Among Us and Generation Why podcast, and gave me the chance to meet and chat to some lovely listeners, as well as to Coleen from Misconduct, Paul from True-Crime Enthusiast, Jess from Outlines and Kate & Georgie from Nothing Rhymes With Murder. It was a great night. If you missed it? You were missed.
Don’t forget, if you want to see what the murder locations look like, on the day that each podcast is released, I also upload a blog for that episode, with a map, location videos, photos and much more. There is a link to this in the show-notes.
Murder Mile was researched, written & performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
Credits: The Murder Mile true-crime podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0.
The music featured in this episode include:
Sources: Sadly with no National Archives file available, I had to use newspapers. Urgh! Yes, I know, British journalism is often a shoddy pile of shit, but sometimes, you have to go with what you are given.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ***
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, therefore mistakes will be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken. It is not a full representation of the case, the people or the investigation in its entirety, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity and drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, therefore it will contain a certain level of bias to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ***
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tor of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British podcast Awards 2018", and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 50 deaths, over just a one mile walk
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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