Juliette D’Souza case: Timeline of key events in criminal career and downfall of bogus shaman from Hampstead
- Credit: Polly Hancock
A timeline covering the key events, victims and turning points in the criminal career of prolific fraudster Juliette D’Souza
1996: Juliette D’Souza takes osteopath Keith Bender to the Amazon jungle in Suriname, South America, where he undergoes a cleansing ritual with “high shaman” Pa. Mr Bender becomes convinced of D’Souza’s abilities and goes on to refer many of her victims in good faith.
1998: D’Souza meets Ruth Fillingham and her partner Geoff Wheeler, who over the next six years give her £169,000 and £195,000 respectively. They believe their money is sent to the jungle in Suriname to be hung from a sacred tree. Ms Fillingham loses her home and Mr Wheeler is left “as poor as a church mouse”. Contact is severed when they run out of money.
1998: Retired opera singer Sylvia Eaves is drawn into D’Souza’s web, giving her more than £250,000 between 1998 and 2005.
1999-2006: A solicitor suffering from terminal leukaemia, Richard Collier-Wright, hands over £7,000 to cure the illness. A couple pay £42,000 to help their 10-year-old son with Down’s syndrome. Award-winning photographer Jocelyn Bain Hogg, who has worked for Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times and Vogue, is duped out of £45,000 and declared bankrupt.
2006: An unnamed woman pays £176,000 for help with becoming pregnant. She conceives in the spring of 2007, but is told to “get rid” of the unborn child by D’Souza. She has the abortion.2007: D’Souza leaves for Suriname and her victims become desperate when she does not return. A few weeks after the unnamed woman’s abortion, she and Bender break into D’Souza’s home in Willoughby Road, Hampstead, where they discover “the house of a psychopath”. They find a chaotic mess of designer shopping bags, burned photographs half buried in earth, seven freezers filled with rotting meat and a monkey in a cage.
2007: Mr Bender rounds up a group of victims to go to Holborn police station, leading to the first police inquiry. The case is deemed to be a civil matter and closed.
2009: After no action was taken by police, D’Souza again targets Sylvia Eaves. In phone calls, she poses as a customs officer at Heathrow and cons the widow out of another £100,000.
2011: Police are approached by friends of Mrs Eaves, which leads to a new investigation. In May, officers circulate a wanted notice for D’Souza.
2012: D’Souza’s name comes to the attention of police in an unrelated inquiry linked to her mother’s care home, Branch Hill House in Branch Hill, Hampstead. She is arrested there in June. In a series of police interviews, she denies ever claiming to be healer.
2014: A jury takes just one hour to convict D’Souza of 23 counts of fraud and obtaining property by deception on Thursday May 29. The next day, she is jailed for 10 years, the maximum sentence for fraud. Judge Ian Karsten QC says it is the worst case of confidence fraud he has ever heard of.