Dene Broadbelt says he is very much alive and he had nothing to do with a press release issued on Tuesday, March 17, announcing his demise.
“I am not dead,” the former Batemans Bay man told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner on March 19.
Mr Broadbelt was the subject of a release emailed to this newspaper, which informed “everyone of the sad news that Dene Broadbelt died unexpectedly on Saturday night”, March 14.
The release went on to say funeral arrangements would be announced and gave alleged details of Mr Broadbelt’s “last wishes”.
Mr Broadbelt said the release purported to be from a man he once worked with in western NSW.
Mr Broadbelt has gained bad publicity in recent years after a string of failed ventures and debts, under various names, led him to be labelled a conman, including in the Eurobodalla.
The most recent was last week in rural Victoria, where it was reported he tried to establish himself as a real estate agent.
Mr Broadbelt yesterday denied being a conman, however admitted to running up debts of $250,000 and said he had declared himself bankrupt last year.
“I made a mistake when I was younger,” he said.
“I racked up a few debts, it came to $250,000.
“There was no option other to declare myself bankrupt.”
Mr Broadbelt telephoned this newspaper on Thursday afternoon, March 19, and said his call was made on legal advice.
“(My barrister) has advised it is in my best interests that I give you a call and provide my side of the story,” Mr Broadbelt said.
“I have changed my name because I have been receiving death threats.
“My name at present, licensed through Births, Deaths and Marriages, is Harrison O’Connor.”
Mr Broadbelt has also used the name Dene Mussillon, which he said was his mother’s name and his registered birth name.
He said this had been changed at the age of five to his father’s name, Broadbelt.
“In April 2014, because of all these stories - I was receiving death threats and so was my mum and my grandparents - they urged me to change my name, which is now Harrison O’Connor,” he said.
Mr Broadbelt said he knew the person named as the sender of the press release and that he had been a work experience student at a Dubbo radio station where they both worked.
“I do not have connection with him anymore,” Mr Broadbelt said.
“We became friends.
“We have not spoken since 2012, so the email just came out of nowhere.
“I got a call at four o’clock on Tuesday going into Wednesday morning from my grandmother saying, ‘are you still alive?’
On the internet, “I saw this completely untrue article”.
Mr Broadbelt said he did not know why the release had been written.
“I did leave the station on bad terms,” he said.
He denied “100 per cent” writing the release himself.
He said he had tried to contact the author without success.
He denied trying to set up a real estate agency in Victoria.
“I have completed a diploma in real estate,” he said.
“I came down looking to get into the real estate industry, to move on with my life.
“But they were only plans.”
He denied offering employment to anyone, as reported in Victorian media, and said he knew he could not sell real estate without a licence.
“I have only put feelers out,” he said.
He said the police had visited his home in Timboon on Friday, but told him he had not done anything wrong.
“I am not wanted on any charges,” he said.
However, they advised him to leave town.
“I have basically been run out of town,” he said.
“I have had death threats.
“I will have to wait for the bankruptcy to clear and hopefully people will let me move on with my life and I will get a job in retail or something.”
In July last year, the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner reported the concerns of Milton’s Scott Richardson, who said he had been stung in an elaborate scam by Mr Broadbelt.
Mr Broadbelt said he did owe Mr Richardson funds, but Mr Richardson had contacted him to congratulate him when he declared himself bankrupt earlier that year.
“There are some funds owing to him, but again, you can’t lead a horse to water and make it drink and I am bankrupt, so I can’t pay it,” he said.
“Scott has been really understanding.
“He sent me a message soon after I declared myself bankrupt and said congratulations.”
Asked if he was a conman, Mr Broadbelt said ‘No’.
“I have made a silly mistake in the past, in my younger years I racked up a bit of debt, and I have tried to resolve that by declaring myself bankrupt,” he said.
“Declaring myself bankrupt has made me wake up to the situation.
Asked he if felt pity for the many people who had lost money in his projects, he said “Yeah”.
“But the majority of them, 99 per cent have accepted it and there is no more that they can do,” he said.
He said the authorities were investigating the source of the release.