Internet campaign about satanic cult at Hampstead school was ‘fantasy’ says judge
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
An “evil” internet campaign about a satanic cult operating at a Hampstead school was a “fantasy” and “nothing other than utter nonsense,” a High Court judge ruled today.
Two young children, now in care, were forced to take part in the “baseless” campaign and had their innocence stolen by their mother, Ella Draper, and her partner, Abraham Christie, top Family Division judge Mrs Justice Pauffley ruled.
She was giving a fact finding judgment in care proceedings brought by the London Borough of Barnet involving two children, aged nine and eight, who were said to be at the centre of the cult’s abuse.
The judge said that in September last year “lurid allegations of the most serious kind” were drawn to the attention of the Metropolitan Police suggesting the children were part of a large group of children abused by the satanic cult.
The children’s father, Ricky Dearman, was said to be the leader of the cult and teachers at Christ Church Primary School in Hampstead and a priest at the adjacent church were said to be members.
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Both children – who can only be identified as P and Q – are now in care.
The judge said the children had been forced to lie about their alleged abuse by the “cult” by their mother and Mr Christie.
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The children themselves had been repeatedly named on the internet with their pictures and film clips.
But the judge said: “My sense was that the children, for the most part, were in the realms of fantasy.”
Referring to the internet claims, she said: “The assertions were that babies had been abused tortured and then sacrificed.
“Their throats were slit, blood was drunk and cult members would then dance wearing babies’ skulls – sometimes with blood and hair still attached – on their bodies.”
She added: “Both P and Q have suffered significantly. Their innocence was invaded. Their minds were scrambled. Their grip on reality was imperilled.
“They were introduced to sexual practices of which they had no real understanding at a time when they should have been shielded from such things.”
But after a lengthy private hearing, when the children themselves were interviewed and examined, the judge declared: “I am able to state with complete conviction that none of the allegations are true.
“I am entirely certain that everything Ms Draper, her partner Abraham Christie and the children said about those matters was fabricated.
“The claims are baseless. Those who have sought to perpetrate them are evil and or foolish.”
She said filmed interviews of the children had been uploaded onto the internet with more than four million people worldwide viewing online material about the case.
She added: “It is inevitable that a large proportion of those have a sexual interest in children.
“Any rational adult who uploads film clips to YouTube featuring children speaking about sexual activity must be assumed to realise that fact.”
She said the children had been forced by their mother and Mr Christie “to provide concocted accounts of horrific events”.
She said: “The stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse.
“Torture is a strong word but it is the most accurate way to describe what was done to the children by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper.
“The children were made to take part in filmed mobile phone recordings in which they relayed a series of fabricated satanic practices.”
She said the mother took no part in the court proceedings and had now disappeared.
She had not been seen since early February with rumours that she had fled abroad.
Mr Christie took no part in court proceedings either. But the judge found he had physically abused the children.
She said the children’s parents met in 2003 and there was an “acrimonious” split up three years later.
Ms Draper then accused the father, Mr Dearman, of the most serious kinds of sexual abuse, with “grotesque” assertions of repeated interference with them since they were babies.
But the judge completely cleared Mr Dearman of any abuse.
She said she had no doubt but that the physical injuries described by the children as having been inflicted by Mr Christie were indeed caused by him.
She rejected as “baseless” the mother’s suggestion that instead their father was responsible.
She continued: “The children were made to absorb and repeat on film, and in interview, grotesque claims against so many blameless people including the father whom they love.”
She added: “All of the material promulgated by Ms Draper now published on the internet is nothing other than utter nonsense.
“The long term emotional and psychological harm of what was done to the children is incalculable. The impact of the internet campaign is likely to have the most devastating consequences for P and Q.”
She said the internet campaign has continued and as fast as online material was taken down it appeared on other websites.
“All the signs are that those responsible for posting material derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from attracting interest to their spiteful work from many thousands of people,” she added.
“It’s akin to the sensation, I imagine, of a Facebook user receiving an indication that some posting or other has been ‘liked’.”
She added: “The individuals who have watched online film clips, read online articles and believed in the allegations would do well to reflect that ‘things may not be what they seem’, and that it is all too easy to be duped on the basis of partial information.
“There are many campaigning people, sadly, who derive satisfaction from spreading their own poisonous version of history irrespective of whether it is true or not.”