Search

D’Souza trial hears alleged con artist faith healer is “very nice person”

17:24 29 May 2014

Juliette D'Souza outside Blackfriars Crown Court. Picture: Polly Hancock

Juliette D'Souza outside Blackfriars Crown Court. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

A woman accused of swindling £1million in a bizarre scam involving shamanic faith healing and the Amazon jungle is a “very nice person”, her trial heard this week.

Juliette D’Souza, of Perrin’s Lane, Hampstead, allegedly made a fortune by convincing vulnerable people to part with huge cash “sacrifices”, telling them she was a faith healer who could cure terminal illnesses, enable them to conceive or help their disabled children.

Some victims gave her sums approaching £200,000, believing the money would be sent to the Amazon jungle in Suriname to be hung from a sacred tree, somehow solving their problems, Blackfrairs Crown Court has heard.

But her friend and beauty therapist Danuta Hodgkinson, 55, told the court this week that she has known D’Souza for 25 years and had no knowledge of cash sacrifices or the current trial until she read the newspapers.

“I read an article in the paper, Juliette never told me anything about it, I think she was a bit ashamed, I didn’t know even then – I called her and said what is that all about,” she said.

Ms Hodgkinson insisted D’Souza was not capable of carrying out the alleged fraud.

“She is actually quite level headed, straight talking and a very grounded person,” she said.

She added: “I never met anybody as friendly as Juliette is... She is very nice person, a very nice person indeed.”

Ms Hodgkinson was the only witness called by the defence, after D’Souza decided not to give evidence herself. Judge Ian Karsten QC told the jury: “Ms D’Souza has decided not to give evidence and you are to take from that whatever inferences you might find appropriate.”

D’Souza spent the money on a lavish lifestyle of luxury rented properties, first-class air travel, jewellery and designer handbags, the court has been told.

When two of her victims broke into her 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.

Prosecutor Benjamin Aina QC described D’Souza as a “professional confidence trickster whose lies have caught up with her”.

He said: “If this was an honest scheme, she would say ‘Yes I am a shaman, yes I took their monies and yes they got what they paid for.

“But it is dishonest and she knows it is dishonest – that’s why she denies doing it because she knows she has gone too far – she has taken too much money.

“And if she was to speak the truth – I am a shaman I was offering this service, the first thing somebody would say to her is ‘hold on a second, why were you asking for £10,000 or £20,000?

“We have heard from an expert that shamans don’t do that, they only taken tokens.

“She boasts, she asks for ridiculous sums of money and the reason? – because it is a con.”

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

The trial continues.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

The new community centre designed by architects RCKa

The director of a community centre in Highgate Newtown is celebrating his services being saved - thanks to private

13:14
Gakleen Shahata

Police are increasingly concerned for the wellbeing of a deaf woman with learning difficulties after she went missing from a church in Golders Green.

11:37
The Magic Paintbrush will be performed at Jacksons Lane

A Highgate multi-arts venue has announced its spring season and it is bursting at the seams with shows for all the family.

Friday, February 17, 2017
Professor Emma Morris in her laboratory at the Royal Free. Photo: Anna Behrmann

Anna Behrmann speaks to Professor Emma Morris, part of a team of researchers who are genetically modifying patients’ immune cells to find tumours and kill them

Friday, February 17, 2017
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Haringey's cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Photo: Nigel Sutton

An overseas developer has been confirmed for Haringey’s plans to privatise large swathes of council estates and land - as legal action is launched and hundreds waved colourful signs in protest

Friday, February 17, 2017
Colin Leacock          Picture: CENTRAL NEWS

A man charged with raping a woman he met on a dating site after his domineering sister turned her into an “unpaid skivvy” has been cleared.

Friday, February 17, 2017
A tool surrendered in Dodoma, Tanzania, used to perform the 'dangerous practice' of FGM      Picture: Sala Lewis/Irish Aid/PA

The number of new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Haringey, Camden and Barnet have been revealed as the NSPCC said the practice has “no place in any society”.

Friday, February 17, 2017
The 27-year-old man collapsed in Pentonville Road's McDonald's branch in the early hours of Wednesday. Picture: Ewan Munro/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A 17-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a man was stabbed in the groin on Wednesday.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Are you in need of a new kitchen? Try our competition and you could win a brand new one!

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now