The freshly-dug grave offers no clue to the enormous wealth once enjoyed by the man who lies within it. A muddy mound in a Berkshire cemetery, topped by a few hardy plants and a withered bouquet of carnations, it is not even marked with a name-plate.
It is just plot Q1147.
Nor was there anything special about his funeral, late last month, at a nearby mosque. No limousines or grandiloquent speeches. Like most of the mourners, the imam who conducted the service knew nothing of the extraordinary life he had led. His death rated no more than a few paragraphs in the local papers.
However, 23 years ago, Mukhtar Mohidin made history by becoming Britain’s first National Lottery multi-millionaire. The draw had been launched, amid frenzied excitement, in November 1994, and the following month he scooped the first rollover jackpot, winning the then unimaginable sum of £17.9 million.
When he bought the magic ticket in Tesco, he was a 42-year-old chemical factory shift-worker, living with his wife, Sayeeda, and their three young children, in a redbrick terraced house in Blackburn, Lancashire.
Twenty-three years ago, Mukhtar Mohidin (pictured with Charlotte Doyle) made history by becoming Britain’s first National Lottery multi-millionaire
The astonishing windfall utterly transformed his life — but, as we shall learn, certainly not for the better.
No sooner had the massive cheque been deposited in his new account at the Yorkshire Bank than he began to transform himself from a popular, hard-working, devoutly religious family man to a drunken, violent, womanising playboy.
Shunned by the local Muslim community, who declined to accept his charity as gambling is against Islamic teaching, he and his family fled Blackburn to start a new life in the Home Counties.
But there his marriage quickly fell apart, and his relatives were riven by jealous feuds as they fought for a share of the spoils.
His descent became a parable for the ills of instant wealth. Those morally and ethically opposed to the Lottery cited it as a counterpoint to the uplifting testimonies of other winners, which organisers Camelot were only too eager to publicise.
The lurid red-top headlines about Mr Mohidin, and his so-called ‘£18m Indian takeaway’ abated during the late Nineties, when the family changed their names, and his wife obtained a court injunction preventing their children from being identified. Thereafter, they vanished into obscurity.
Today, however, I can reveal what became of Britain’s first Lottery multi-millionaire. It transpires that after Mr Mohidin’s wife divorced him, in 1998, he recreated himself as ‘Mike’ and posed as a wealthy investment banker.
He would gamble compulsively in London’s top casinos and hire high-class call-girls, whom he pathetically attempted to impress with gifts and exotic holidays.
One of these £800-a-night escorts — a shapely Anglo-Indian named Charlotte Doyle — actually became his mistress and, I have learned, bore him a love child who is now a teenager.
When I interviewed her this week, I had to break the news her former lover had died.
She claimed, perhaps fancifully, that they fell in love, and that he took her out of prostitution, living with her in a Barratt home in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey.
His, then, is a salutary story that says much about the age in which we live, and underscores once more that age-old adage that money really doesn’t buy happiness.
Mukhtar Mohidin was typical of many East African Asians who arrived in Britain in the Seventies.
Settling in Blackburn with his parents, he worked hard, and by his early 40s he was supplementing his income from the chemical plant by renting out a workshop he had bought.
His wife earned £100 a week in the local factory. The cash that bought the winning ticket was provided by his tenant, Ismail Lorgat, who handed him £50 to pay a £46 electricity bill in that fateful week in December 1994, and told him to spend the £4 change on the exciting new Lottery.
Charlotte Doyle- the ex lover of the first ever lottery winner Mukhtar Mohiddin who died last week
Mr Lorgat, 64, who runs a Blackburn kitchen business, still recalls his words, as he urged his landlord to have a flutter: ‘I’ve been very lucky all my life. Don’t stop dreaming.’
The agreement, he says, was that if their numbers came up, they would split the prize; but Mr Mohidin reneged on the deal. After the winning numbers were drawn on Saturday evening TV, they never spoke again.
Mr Lorgat did take out a writ, served on the grounds they had a verbal contract, and says a Mohidin relative offered him £50,000 as a settlement. But his father was an Islamic teacher, and counselled him against accepting any money, saying it was so contrary to Islam it would ‘bring about the destruction of my offspring’.
Though Mohidin had ticked the ‘no publicity’ box, the Press soon tracked him down. There was a strong suspicion that someone inside Camelot had tipped them off. There was then a major political debate about the ethics of naming the family, before a judge decided the public had a right to know.
With their cover about to be blown, the Mohidins were spirited away, first to a relative’s flat in North London — where there was a heated argument over how the spoils should be divided (eventually a dozen family members received £100,000 each) — then on a luxurious world tour, costing £20,000 for the air tickets alone.
Even before they left, cracks began to appear in the Mohidins’ 13-year marriage. When Indian-born Sayeeda, who had always been more Westernised than her husband, splashed out on outfits for the trip, her husband complained.
When he haggled over the price of a suit in a West End branch of Burton — saying he could get it cheaper in Blackburn — she said he was embarrassing her.
Their differences over how the millions ought to be spent continued in Mauritius, where he checked them out of an expensive hotel and into a cheap package resort; and in Singapore, where he baulked at paying £3.60 for a beer.
Worse, he started going off alone to drink (Johnnie Walker Black Label became his favourite tipple), leaving his wife to care for their three children.
When they returned, they rented a modest home for a while, then moved into a modern, detached house with a pool, on an affluent road in the Home Counties. It is worth more than £2million today.
But the money rows escalated. According to a relative, Mr Mohidin objected to paying expensive school fees, and became angry when she spent £90,000 on a car. In response, he bought a Mercedes for more than £100,000 just to outdo her.
Within months of the £17.9 million pay-out, though they professed to be living ‘amicably’ together, the couple became embroiled in a tit-for-tat legal battle.
Mr Mohidin issued a High Court writ to stop his wife securing half the money. She countered with a writ, issued under the Married Women’s Property Act, claiming a joint share of cash.
The wrangle appeared to have been settled when he conceded they could have a joint bank account, with every cheque requiring both their signatures. In reality this did not resolve the matter, for whenever he disapproved of a purchase she wished to make, he would refuse to sign.
It became so intolerable that she ran away to a hotel with the children. When her husband went to fetch her back, police were called and he spent a night in the cells.The marriage staggered on for four more years. Then in 1998, after he reportedly hit her and threatened her with a gun, Sayeeda obtained a divorce.
According to one source, she received a £5 million settlement, plus possession of the house and £60,000 per year in maintenance for each of their children.
She is evidently enjoying her affluent life in the Home Counties today. A decade younger than her ex-husband, and looking youthful thanks to some expensive-looking beauty treatments, she told me this week she was briefly married again, but is now single. Her Facebook posts show that she shops at luxury department stores, lunches with friends, travels extensively, and has a penchant for flashy sports cars.
However, she declined to discuss her late husband or the Lottery. ‘It was all so long ago. My life has moved on,’ she said. When I called at the house, she was being visited by her eldest son, now in his 30s, and a successful businessman.
Mr Mohidin’s life took a very different course.
Among his old circle in Blackburn he became a pariah, perceived to have cheated his tenant out of a share of the winnings, turned his back on the Muslim community, and shamed his religion. Perhaps for that reason, he donated £320,000 to develop a new meeting hall, but mosque elders returned the money, so it stood unfinished for years and was eventually demolished.
Vandals wrecked his old terraced house, which he had kept, perhaps with thoughts of returning to his home town. ‘He has been airbrushed out of existence here,’ says his former tenant Ismail Lorgat.
Without friends or a family home, and cut off from his roots, Mr Mohidin drifted from club to bar to casino, using his cash to buy company. With his slicked-back hair, Armani suits, diamond ear-studs, and a wallet bulging with £50 notes, ‘Mike’, as he started styling himself, seemed to be having fun.
But according to Charlotte Doyle, the escort girl he fell for, he was a ‘troubled and confused’ man at odds with his true identity.
They met when he sauntered into a Kensington escort agency one day in 1998, and ran his eye over the girls waiting to be picked up in the softly lit lounge.
‘I think he chose me because I offered the best of both his worlds,’ she says. ‘My heritage is half-Indian, but I had blonde hair then.’ She was 24 at the time.
That first night, he took her for an expensive dinner then whisked her to Stringfellows nightclub, jumping the queue by tipping the doorman generously. Then they went back to the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane.
His impressive libido was fuelled by Viagra, she later discovered. ‘He wasn’t good-looking, but I was attracted by him as he was so charismatic and funny, and he had such style. He seemed very powerful. I liked his accent, which was northern with a slight East African twang. He certainly didn’t seem like a Lancashire factory worker.
‘I kept asking what he did for a living, but he wouldn’t say. At one point I asked whether he was a drug-dealer and he thought that was hilarious. Eventually he said he was an investment banker.’
Thereafter, he stopped hiring other escorts and booked only her, sometimes several times a week.
He lavished her with designer clothes, flying her on shopping trips to Paris and weekends on the French Riviera. He spent thousands on her favourite Chopard jewellery, presenting her with a £10,000 diamond-encrusted heart.
They had been seeing one another for six months before she learned his true identity. It emerged when one of his casino gambling acquaintances, angry that Mr Mohidin refused to advance him £40,000, sold the story to a red-top paper.
Miss Doyle says she found it ‘deflating’ to discover her rich benefactor had merely won his money on the Lottery.
Her disillusionment subsided, however, when he flew her to New York on Concorde by way of an apology, then installed her (with her seven-year-old daughter by a previous relationship) in a house, worth £600,000 at today’s prices, in the Surrey suburbs.
Soon, however, she discovered he had deceived her into thinking she owned the house, when it had been bought in his name. He claimed he had been forced to do this for ‘tax reasons’. This led to a lengthy legal wrangle, the upshot of which was that she secured possession.
When she fell pregnant in 2001, Miss Doyle says his personality began to change altogether. ‘He went from being a casino and party-loving playboy into the man I suspect he had been before he won the money,’ she told me.
‘He had moved into the house with me by then, and he would find fault with everything I did.
Miss Doyle, 43, who says the couple were engaged but never married, insists their baby was planned and that Mr Mohidin was ‘very proud’ when she was born, attending the birth at Kingston Hospital in January 2002
He stopped buying me beautiful jewellery and would come home with cheap trinkets, such as a £2 watch, from Southall Market. I had to ask him for pocket money for shopping. He behaved horribly towards my daughter, and he would turn photos of her upside down.
‘He didn’t want my mother to visit me, either, and threatened to bash her head in with a parasol. When I argued, he became very violent. During a holiday in Portugal he battered me round the head so badly that I had to see a doctor. He would even threaten to kill me. He’d stroke my face menacingly and say: “For £100,000 I could have you killed, darling.”
‘He was still drinking and smoking, and I’m sure he was sleeping with other girls. But he’d started praying several times a day, and going to the mosque. He’d try to make me religious and wear traditional Indian clothes, but I refused.’
Miss Doyle, 43, who says the couple were engaged but never married, insists their baby was planned and that Mr Mohidin was ‘very proud’ when she was born, attending the birth at Kingston Hospital in January 2002. Photographs showing him bouncing the little girl on his knee attest to this.
However, after she brought their child home, his overbearing, bullying behaviour grew steadily worse — culminating with a violent outburst, in 2004, which led her to have him evicted by the police.
She saw him only once more, when he returned to collect his belongings. Then followed a three-year legal struggle, as she attempted to force him to pay maintenance. Suggesting that the baby might not be his, he demanded a DNA test, but when it came back it showed there was a 99.9999 per cent probability he was the father.
I have seen documents, including the DNA test, court papers, and the child’s birth certificate, proving conclusively the child was his.
Miss Doyle also possesses court documents showing that, in 2007, a Family Court judge ordered Mr Mohidin to pay £40,000 a year towards the girl’s upkeep.
However, she claims he never paid a penny. She now has plans to consult solicitors in the hope of belatedly claiming the money, which has accrued to £700,000, from whatever remains of his fortune.
Probate experts say that the law allows her to sue his estate for unpaid maintenance. She could contest any will. Despite his high-living, she believes he will have left several million pounds as he employed savvy financial advisers who invested for him, and held offshore accounts.
‘It is the least my daughter deserves,’ she told me. ‘I thought she had been born to a life of privilege, but that wasn’t the case. His children were treated like royalty. They attended private schools and wanted for nothing. I think my daughter is entitled to some security now.’
This week, when she told her 15-year-old daughter her father had died, the girl was understandably emotional, asking to visit his grave.
During his final years, Mr Mohidin appears to have been torn between his piety and decadence. He was last seen in Blackpool, a few years ago, staying in a £35-a-night bed and breakfast boarding house, accompanied by a woman he met in Thailand.He was only 64 when he died, on August 23, in a Berkshire hospital. Officially, he succumbed to complications from a urinary tract infection.
However, his death certificate lists a plethora of ancillary ailments which might have related to his debauched lifestyle, including kidney failure, liver cirrhosis and heart disease. As one family member told me: ‘He died from good living.’
Yet that is not the view of many who knew him. ‘He could have had a wonderful life,’ says his double-crossed friend, Mr Lorgat.
‘People could have remembered him and sung his praises, (but) he was a weak man who succumbed to temptation and carnal desires.’
Sadly, it seems, that must serve as the grim epitaph for Britain’s first Lottery multi-millionaire.
Additional reporting: Nigel Bunyan