July 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, May 22, 2014
An alleged shaman fraudster told police her sister worked for Prime Minister David Cameron after she was arrested at a Hampstead care home, a court heard.
That was one of the claims made by Juliette D’Souza under police questioning following her arrest at Branch Hill House care home, Branch Hill, where her mother was a resident.
The defendant was carrying five mobile phones and more than £2,800 in cash when she was detained in June 2012, Blackfriars Crown Court heard this week.
In one of two interviews, of which transcripts were read to the trial this week, she told police: “Annie [her sister] works for David Cameron. She does PA stuff and she goes to the House of Commons, although I don’t get involved with that.”
D’Souza, of Perrin’s Lane, Hampstead, is accused of conning 11 people into believing she was a spiritual healer who could cure cancer by hanging cash from a sacred tree in the Amazon jungle in Suriname, over a 12-year period.
In police interviews, the 59-year-old denied the £1million scam, in which she allegedly demanded huge cash “sacrifices” of tens of thousands of pounds at a time, only to splash the money on a lavish lifestyle of luxury flats, Louis Vuitton shopping sprees and first-class air travel.
She insisted she had never claimed to be a shaman, never discussed sacrifices – and accused osteopath Keith Bender, one of her alleged victims, of being “behind it all” because he is “evil”.
The defendant did go to Suriname, but only because her “common-law husband”, named in court as Mr Tjin-a-ton, was a high-ranking police inspector in the South American country, the court heard.
She told police: “At no time have I talked about any sacrifice or any healing and [alleged victim Sylvia Eaves, 83] has never asked me to heal her from anything.
“Bender used to give [Ms Eaves] all kinds of shaman books. He was the one talking about shamans. Keith Bender was probably behind all of it.”
Later, she said: “I know how evil Keith is. I don’t like him. He used to talk about how he would break people’s necks in giving treatment. He actually nearly broke Insp Tjin-a-ton’s neck, he was so jealous of Insp Tjin-a-ton.”
The court also heard that D’Souza, who was known by several different names including Vanessa Campbell, had bragged of curing Monty Python star John Cleese’s daughter of cancer to Stephen Majoram, one of the care workers at Branch Hill House.
Another witness, Sunday Times journalist Tim Rayment, who wrote an article in 2008 exposing the alleged fraud, described tracking the defendant down in Suriname, before fleeing the country after being followed by Mr Tjin-a-ton in a “slow motion car chase” and starting to fear for his safety.
The jury has previously been told that D’Souza held such power over her victims that she persuaded one woman to have an abortion, telling her the unborn child was “deformed”. The woman had struggled to get pregnant for three years and allegedly gave D’Souza £176,000 to help her conceive, prior to the abortion.
When two of the victims broke into D’Souza’s home in Willoughby Road, Hampstead, in 2008, they allegedly discovered countless designer shopping bags, seven freezers filled with rotting meat and a caged monkey called Joey.
D’Souza denies 23 charges of obtaining property by deception and fraud.
The trial continues.