The case of Denise Milani and the British scientist proves – set a honeytrap and men fall in every time

This week a 68-year-old British scientist came before the courts, claiming his crimes were all for the love of a leggy supermodel. Could a grown man be that stupid?


One question nags me over this week’s honeytrap trial in which a British scientist was conned into smuggling drugs because he thought he might get his leg over a Czech glamour model. Is it possible that Paul Frampton was really that stupid? The depressing answer is – yes, definitely. But the facts are nevertheless quite hard to swallow. Frampton – who amazingly has the requisite grey matter for a double first from Oxford – became convinced that he had formed an online romantic relationship with Denise Milani, a gorgeous 32-year-old former Miss Bikini World.

So persuaded was he by the reality of this link that he flew to Bolivia to meet her for an assignation – and in his imagination, no doubt, a bit of slap and tickle – but ended up smuggling drugs for a cartel that had used Milani’s picture as a honeytrap (without her knowledge).

There are many levels of stupidity involved in this story, and I don’t want to add to Mr Frampton’s woes by listing them all, since he just got banged up for nearly five years. His ex-wife’s observation that he is a “naive fool” is probably sufficient comment. But at the heart of it is the question: how could an unprepossessing 68-year-old believe that a busty hottie might want to have him dip his rusty old spoon in her honeypot?

The depths of male vanity really are quite unfathomable. I don’t think any 68-year-old woman could possibly fall for such a scheme – it would just seem too wildly implausible to have a member of Chippendales fall in love with them. Women have their heads screwed on too tight.

I don't think any 68-year-old woman could possibly fall for such a scheme

Perhaps there are mitigating cultural circumstances for this extraordinary sexual blindness. It may be true that, for men, the moment when they lose their sexual allure has historically been somewhat more blurred than for women. After all, women do not usually ogle and wolf whistle attractive men, so the sudden absence of such attention does not act as a litmus test.

Furthermore, there is a story that is told to men by the culture that women see through shallow matter like physical age and unattractiveness to the deep and sensitive person supposedly hiding underneath the wrinkles and sagging belly.

There is very limited evidence for this view. It is true that an older man is likelier to have a relationship with a younger women for historical and cultural reasons, but those reasons – which are to do with power and status – are fading somewhat, although they obviously still have force. As Mrs Merton famously asked Debbie McGee about Paul Daniels, 20 years her senior: “So what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

It remains true that if you are rich, powerful and glamorous you are definitely in with a chance with younger, sometimes much younger, women. The simian Bill Wyman and scores of other rich, grisly old men with much younger partners have proved that. But the trouble is, ordinary blokes suffer from the illusion that they, too, deep down, are unheralded superstars.

This myth of the Woman Who Can See the Heart of Gold probably derives from comforting stories told by mummy to jug-eared, spotty schoolboys, but which also feeds into a number of larger cultural myths.

Blind man's buff

At the beginning of the 20th century, for instance, silent comedies customarily portrayed the hopeless, weedy but good-hearted guy – originally Chaplin, but later Norman Wisdom – winning the girl from the handsome but brutish alpha male. This continued, for the British, into the Carry On era, in which the biggest loser usually in the end landed the female love interest because of his essential decency – this character most normally being played by the plain, bumbling, sexually terrified Kenneth Connor. Jonathan Coe built a novel around this premise in his Eighties classic What a Carve Up!, and it remains part of sexual mythology – the nice guy wins out over the sexy one.

I’ve always been fond of this particular myth, as I’m not much of a beefcake, and it has occasionally worked for me, giving me a chance with women who on physical grounds alone would probably be out of my league. Even now, in my middle fifties, I sometimes fool myself that a touch of writerly prestige might act as aphrodisiac to the right sort of younger woman. But in my saner moments, I know it’s pretty unlikely. Time to get real.

But an amazing number of men, it seems, still do not recognise their own lack of appeal. Only this week came the story of a 54-year-old weatherman in Florida. Two young Eastern European women in a bar approached him and asked him to “party”. Shortly afterwards, he woke up with a hangover and found he had been ripped off by them to the tune of $43,000. How did he fall for it? The answer was disarmingly honest. “I’m a guy. I thought I might get laid.”

From Mata Hari’s victims to John Profumo, to David Petraeus, the same fundamental formula applies. Women may be less powerful in society, but when it comes to sex, young ones, at least, remain in control. And that’s not down to their predatoriness but men’s perennial foolish vanity. No deep explanations are necessary. “I’m a guy – I thought I might get laid” says everything that needs to be said about the situation.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears