Timeline: How ‘fantasy’ Hampstead satanic abuse cult allegations came to be online
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima
How did completely “baseless” allegations of a satanic paedophile abuse cult in Hampstead come to be posted online and viewed by four million people worldwide?
This case involves two children, who can only be identified as P and Q, who were forced to lie about abuse at the hands of a satanic paedophile ring. The children were coerced by their mother, Ella Draper, and her boyfriend, Abraham Christie, after suffering relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse. In the words of High Court judge Mrs Justice Pauffley they had been tortured. Here we follow the timeline of events.
2003: Ella Draper and Ricky Dearman, the parents of children P and Q, meet.
2006: By 2006 the parents’ relationship has disintegrated. The children live with their mother. Over the next six years there is never a time when the children’s contact with their father proceeds smoothly.
May 2014: The children’s father has contact with them for the first time since October 2013 after a period of renewed involvement by the London Borough of Camden.
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In the same month, the mother meets her new partner, Abraham Christie. He has a background of criminality for drug offences, violence and dishonesty.
June 2014: There is a scene in the children’s school as Mr Christie collects P and Q. He is “loud and aggressive, accusing teachers of poisoning the children”.
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August 2014: While Mr Christie is on holiday in France he contacts his brother-in-law, a former policeman, saying he has information regarding abuse of the children.
August 2014: Ms Draper, Mr Christie and the children travel to Gibraltar and then Morocco, returning on September 4. Over the course of the four weeks spent abroad judge Mrs Justice Pauffley said the children’s minds were filled with “ever more elaborated, fantastical and sexually explicit stories” during “brainstorming sessions”. 16 short clips of interviews with the children alleging a satanic abuse ring in Hampstead led by their father and involving Christ Church Primary School in Hampstead, which were later widely published on the internet, were likely filmed as the children, mother and Mr Christie awaited their flight back to England.
September 4, 2014: Mr Christie’s brother-in-law reports the matter to Scotland Yard saying he is “greatly concerned for the children’s welfare”.
September 5, 2014: Barnet police launch what the force described as a “wide ranging investigation” into the case. Six officers are deployed. The children are interviewed.
September 8, 2014: The children are taken by police on a drive around the area in an unsuccessful attempt to identify specific locations where abusive practices have occurred.
September 10, 2014: Police officers visit and inspect the interior of a church implicated in the false allegations. No notice is given of their intended arrival. Officers look around the vestry and in draws searching for material to assist the inquiry. They find nothing of interest.
September 11, 2014: The children undergo further interviews. They are made the subjects of a Police Protection Order.
September 12, 2014: Both children are examined by a consultant community paediatrician at both the Royal Free Hospital and University College London Hospital.
September 17, 2014: During a third police interview both children withdraw their allegations. Each states that they had been made to say things by Mr Christie which were not true. They give very full details of the way in which he secured their compliance. Both children were assaulted by Mr Christie by being hit with a metal spoon on multiple occasions over their head and legs, by being pushed into walls, punched, pinched and kicked. Water was poured over them as they knelt semi-clothed.
December 2014: The children’s mother dispenses with the legal team representing her in care proceedings.
January 13, 2015: High Court judge Mrs Justice Pauffley first becomes involved with the care proceedings. She speaks to Ms Draper about the relatively limited online publication of court and other material relevant to the case.
January 26, 2015: The children’s mother appears in court representing herself. From this date onwards the volume of material relating to the case posted on different websites, in a variety of formats, increases markedly.
February 10, 2015: Ms Draper fails to attend court when “mandatory and prohibitory injunctions” are made against her.
February 12, 2015: Police officers attend Ms Draper’s address. Her car is on the driveway. Police are denied entry. While officers wait for the means to secure forced entry, three people climb out of a first floor window, run along the roof line of three or four houses and climb down onto some nearby garages where they disappear from sight. Ms Draper has not been seen by anyone in authority since. There are rumours that she has fled abroad.
February 17-20, 2015: Care proceeding hearing begins. Mr Christie is outside the front entrance of the court on February 17 as part of a group campaigning. A witness summons is issued requiring his attendance to answer questions on February 20. Attempts to serve the summons are unsuccessful.
March 3-6 and 10-12, 2015: Care proceeding hearing resumes.
March 19, 2015: Mrs Justice Pauffley gives her care proceedings fact finding judgment at the High Court. In it she finds that there was “no satanic cult or other cult at which babies were murdered and children sexually abused” and that “all of the material promulgated by Ms Draper published on the internet is nothing other than utter nonsense”.
She says: “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.”