This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more about cookies here

Continue

Shaman faith healer promised cancer cure for ‘cash sacrifices’ in £1million Hampstead fraud, court hears

Tuesday,May 6, 2014 03:46 PM

A fake faith healer conned at least £1million from desperate victims across Hampstead who were convinced she could cure cancer by sending money to the Amazon jungle, a court heard this week.

In a bizarre fraud case, Juliette D’Souza is accused of persuading 11 people to part with huge cash “sacrifices” of £30,000 or £40,000 at a time, telling them she was a shaman with supernatural powers.

They believed the money was flown to Suriname to be hung from a sacred tree in the Amazon rainforest – somehow solving whatever problem they faced.

Instead, it allegedly funded a “lavish lifestyle” in which D’Souza rented three or four luxury flats at a time, and splashed a fortune on Louis Vuitton bags, jewellery, antique furniture and holidays, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.

The 59-year-old, of Perrin’s Lane, Hampstead, allegedly preyed on people at their most vulnerable over a 12-year period and boasted of celebrity clients including Princess Diana and music guru Simon Cowell, to win their trust.

Victims, mostly referred to her by osteopath Keith Bender, were so “under her spell” that they sold houses at her say so, the trial was told.

Benjamin Aina, prosecuting, said: “Juliette D’Souza told people she was a shaman. She was dealing with members of the public who had serious life challenges: some were dying from cancer, some had close friends who were dying from cancer, some had physical ailments, some were desperate to have children.

“In one case, a couple had a child with disabilities who they wished to help.

“The money would be sent in a sealed envelope to Suriname to faith healers Oma and Pa.

“They would put the money under or on a special tree and as a result of this, the life problem would be solved. Instead, she used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle in the UK and in South America.”

Victims included Ruth Fillingham, who allegedly paid £169,000 from 1998 to 2004 to ward off the evil spirit of her deceased brother, save her partner from a nonexistent tumour and ensure her eye surgery would be a success – which it was not.

Her boyfriend, Geoff Wheeler, handed over £195,000 in the same period, the court heard. Much of the money was supposed to secure his job, but he was still made redundant

D’Souza is said to have had multiple identities and a litany of addresses across Hampstead, including in Perrin’s Lane, Denning Road, Willoughby Road, Rosslyn Hill and Heath Street, as well as in West Hampstead, Belsize Park, Kensington and St John’s Wood.

She would pay up to a year’s rent in advance – in cash – and occupy several flats at once.

The jury heard that osteopath Mr Bender “genuinely believed that she had special powers” and was “completely under her influence” for more than 10 years, until he realised she was a sham in 2007.

Prosecutor Mr Aina told the court that D’Souza claims she never professed to be a shaman, but that Keith Bender was behind the fraud and has arranged a conspiracy against her involving all of the witnesses. She has yet to take the witness stand.

D’Souza denies 23 charges of obtaining property by deception and fraud. The trial continues.

Other Crime & Court Articles

Family fears over uncharacteristic disappearance of King’s Cross man Camden’s top policeman says some officers are ‘appalling’ at jobs PICTURES: Police reveal Haringey’s most wanted Two men knifed in Belsize Park Tube brawl discharged from hospital Inquest hears domestic abuse victim with PTSD died from lethal heroin dose Pictures: Samurai swords and knives seized in Camden gang crime crack down Prosecutors drop driving offence case against N-Dubz star Fazer Hampstead Theatre plotting to become one of world’s leading playhouses, top producer declares Double stabbing in ‘horrific’ fight at Belsize Park tube station Man, 42, admits anti-Semitic abuse on bus between Muswell Hill and Golders Green Home Office probes supermarket bosses caught hiring illegal Afghan immigrants Taxi driver who took knife gang to murder Kentish Town student caught after international manhunt Video: Hapless moped burglars target Hampstead organisation caring for disabled and elderly Book tells gruesome story of double murder of mum and baby in Camden Town Man charged after gold Rolex stolen in Belsize Park hammer attack Moped robbers strike again in botched ram-raid on Hampstead home Bank card fraudsters fall for police trap at King’s Cross Tube station Police to Highgate burglary victims: ‘Try and solve crime yourselves’ Police probing spate of stolen Range Rovers dumped in Vale of Health Scientist who sexually assaulted client of his artificial insemination service spared jail