Search

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

06:00 01 May 2014

Juliette D

Juliette D'Souza arrives at Blackfriars Crown Court on Tuesday.

Archant

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.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Sunday, May 29, 2016
The Hall school  triathlon team

A team of 40 mothers and staff from The Hall School, in Hampstead, are running the Blenheim Triathlon on June 4 to raise money for a Swiss Cottage youth project.

Sunday, May 29, 2016
The man was stabbed in Camden High Street near Greenland Street

A murder investigation has been launched after a man in his 30s died after being stabbed on Camden High Street in the early hours this morning.

Sunday, May 29, 2016
Chris Roche wants Muswell Hill Library to stay put. Photo: Polly Hancock

A renowned architect fears the historic library will be moved to the site of the former Green Man pub, rather than adapted for greater disability access

Friday, May 27, 2016
Nurul Islam celebrates at his Belsize Park kiosk with customers and Ham&High reporter Emily Banks, right.       Picture: Polly Hancock

The vendor who runs the Belsize Park newspaper kiosk today thanked his customers for pressuring Camden Council into doing a u-turn over the rent hike which threatened his business.

Friday, May 27, 2016
Gabriella with mum Nazanin on her first birthday

A distraught father whose daughter faces her second birthday detained in Iran without her parents has urged children around the world to send her a birthday card.

Friday, May 27, 2016
Victor in Delhi

A ‘smart and popular’ 22-year-old who died in a motorbike crash has been remembered at his former school.

Thursday, May 26, 2016
A pole will be located at the end of Nassington  Road by the entrance to Hampstead Heath

New plans for an Orthodox Jewish boundary across Camden have been submitted.

Thursday, May 26, 2016
The mystery girl was found wandering in  the evening in Daleham Gardens

Police are trying to trace an 11-year-old girl who was discovered wandering in the street in her pyjamas saying she had run away from home.

PROMOTED CONTENT

There are no rules when it comes to buying studio pottery beyond choosing what you love

With The Great Pottery Throwdown captivating viewers across the nation, pottery courses at capacity, and hipsters snapping up vintage studio pieces to display their succulents in and post on Instagram, studio pottery and ceramics are definitely having a moment.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe