We need to talk, once again, about the real Leo Clifton, now also going by the name Leander Royvon. And possibly Jessica Murphy.
I didn’t ever intend to revisit the exploits of this controversial British expatriate, the alleged nitrous oxide dealer who later became an amateur YouTube-educated dog trainer, enthusiast veterinarian and owner of K9 Cambodia.
When first writing for a newspaper about the myriad allegations of fraud, abuse and animal cruelty facing this man, there was plenty of opportunity to keep on writing and plenty of material left unexplored. But life takes over. People move on and sometimes we have to accept some issues will be left unresolved and for writers, some stories left unfinished.
The dozen or so individuals who alleged he has committed a variety of nasty crimes have also tried to move on. But for some of them, this has proven very difficult.
Legal Threats & Harassment
Last month, I was surprised to receive messages from Jessica, via an anonymous, empty and probably fake Facebook profile. The woman claimed to be Leo Clifton’s close friend.
Around the same time, the same character, this time purporting to be Clifton’s niece, was also contacting Khmer440 and the Khmer Times newspaper, who I previously wrote for.
Her uncle and/or friend – who now calls himself Leander Royvon – is a deeply misunderstood man who has been the victim of a cruel injustice, severe defamation and a complex character assassination conspiracy, she decried.
He had suffered greatly as a result of this media coverage and was seeking resolution.
Simultaneously, both the Khmer Times and myself would be bombarded with emails and messages of an amateurish but quasi-legal nature from a “lawyer” in Texas, USA, that alleged defamation.
With disappointment but not a great deal of surprise, I awoke a few days ago to the news that the Khmer Times had decided – without speaking to me – to delete my initial report on Clifton’s activities. Given the constant scandals that have beset KT and the frequent changes in editorial management I don’t judge them too much for this decision. One imagines that somebody in the newsroom decided to go for the safest option when bombarded by threats, accusations and protests.
The correspondences sent on behalf of Clifton (or Royvon, whatever he is calling himself today) allege that the original article published in 2015 is the work of a single disgruntled employee that has no basis in fact. The various accusations are false and defamatory.
This, of course, is a lie. I have never worked for or known Leo Clifton personally or in any capacity. In fact, my efforts to speak to him in relation to this article were stonewalled or ignored.
In truth, the article that describes a variety of accusations against Clifton is based on the testimony and physical evidence provided by nearly a dozen credible and reliable sources, not to mention further insight provided by the wider community in Sihanoukville who were well aware of his behaviour and practices but hadn’t been affected by him personally.
Alleging fraud, abuse, cruelty and the most severe crime of hiring a convicted murderer and known hit-man to track down and deal with former employees are not only disgruntled former workers, but also customers, business partners, local vets and charity workers.
Concerning the animal cruelty, there is photo evidence of untrained Khmer staff, coerced and instructed by Clifton, operating on dogs that would later suffer and die. The allegation that Clifton hired a convicted killer to chase and deal with former employees is supported by a damning series of Skype screenshots.
On the subject of his abusive, controlling and threatening behaviour there is testimony from multiple victims and witnesses.
Furthermore, many will remember also that this is a man who hired and for months worked alongside Michael Edward Harris, a known fugitive who had skipped bail in Orlando, Florida after being charged with 44 counts of child porn possession and multiple accusations of child rape.
Leo Clifton: The Abuser and Stalker?
If further analysis of Clifton’s character and behaviour is required, here is something you probably don’t know about a man who has become known by those who were close to him as an abuser, manipulator and controller.
Last summer, Clifton’s behaviour in the United Kingdom triggered an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service which resulted in him fleeing the country, reportedly back to Cambodia.
Officers had wanted to question him in relation to allegations of stalking and harassment when he skipped the country.
Evidence shows that Clifton had cyber-stalked and tracked down a young woman who previously worked for him in Sihanoukville at K9 Cambodia. He had threatened and harassed this woman who he had seemingly become dangerously obsessed with. He contacted her at work and even contacted her employer on multiple occasions with accusations that she argues were malicious and baseless.
Police officers were so concerned for the woman’s safety following her report that they visited her at her place of work, came to her home on multiple occasions and tracked Clifton to his place of work, also in the UK. According to the alleged victim, they planned to question Clifton and caution him to stay away from her but he had already been fired and left the country.
“He’s a crazy and dangerous man,” the woman says. “He has behaved like this with other former employees too. But with me, he went out of his way to come back into my life a year later, with the clear intention of harassing and scaring me. I felt like I had no choice but to go to the police.”
The Saga Continues?
I am grateful to Khmer440 for their offer to republish the original story that the Khmer Times unfortunately decided to take offline.
In a country like Cambodia, where it can often feel impossible to get real justice, it’s important for the unified voice of these alleged victims to be heard and for the community to make up their own mind about this individual.
It also increasingly seems that we find ourselves living in a time where lawyers, politicians and the public can scream “fake news!” at the top of their lungs whenever they read something they don’t like.
Honest and principled journalists, editors and publishers need to use their voice and take a stand against this. We can’t be bullied into not writing or publishing things that questionable people are uncomfortable reading.