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

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home