During the first week of Sabine McNeill’s trial at Southwark Crown Court, a recurring theme was the issue of transporting the defendant to court in time for a 10:30 a.m. start. This morning, she didn’t turn up at all.
Those of us waiting it the halls were asked to return at 11:20, and then at 1:35 p.m. We were finally ushered into the court at 1:45 p.m., with Sabine making an appearance shortly after that. We were not informed of the exact nature of the delay, but the judge seemed extremely displeased at this turn of events, and informed Sabine’s barrister that court must start on time.
Today’s late start meant that court finished later than usual, at 4:30 p.m.
As we have noted, this case is under reporting restrictions so we will be withholding any information about witnesses which could potentially identify any of the children involved in the Hampstead affair.
In response to a question about Abraham Christie, today’s witness stated that the parents at Christ Church Primary School (CCPS) were aware of his presence, describing him as a “foreboding person” who seemed “malevolent and overbearing when he appeared on the school’s playground.
They stated that he did not behave “the way people expected in a playground”. He had on at least two occasions appeared shirtless, and the caretaker had asked him not to do this.
On one occasion, the witness said, Ella had left a very distressed voicemail on their phone. When the witness went to see Ella, Ella expressed deep concern that the witness’ child had given Child P some sweets, which violated Ella and Abraham’s rule that P and Q only consume raw vegan food. At the end of this interaction, Abraham came downstairs and handed the witness a book to read on the topic of nutrition, which the witness accepted politely and put aside.
On another occasion, Abraham, Ella, and the two children drove past the witness and their family, and Abraham said, “Talk of the devil”, a comment which the witness found strange at the time.
The witness stated that they had had only one brief encounter with RD, during a walk back from Hampstead Heath to the school on a sports day.
On 5 February 2015, the parents of children at CCPS were made aware that allegations had been made about the school. They were told only that the allegations had been made and investigated by police, but were not informed of any details. Like the other parents at the school, the witness went online and Googled the name of the school, and found the “home-made” videos. They confirmed that they found these videos on the Tap Newswire blog run by Henry Curteis.
Like the two previous witnesses, today’s witness emphasised the overwhelming amount of material naming children and falsely accusing their parents of being cult members who sexually abused children and cooked and ate babies.
Prior to all of this taking place, the witness said their life had been calm. They described belonging to a close-knit school community and enjoying a normal family life. Their reaction to the Hampstead hoax, similar to that of the other witnesses who have testified thus far, was horror; they described receiving the email from the school as “like hitting a brick wall” and said they could make no sense of the situation.
“My mind was in a whirl”, they said. “I couldn’t have ever seen this coming”.
On discovering the material about P and Q online, and realising that their name was on the list of alleged abusers, the witness called the school, and was told to call police. They notified police, saying, “My child has been accused of being a sexual abuse victim, and I am alleged to be an abuser”. They were told that the police would be at the house in half an hour.
The witness described having to tell their child what had happened: the child immediately burst into tears, angry and bewildered about what had happened. When the police arrived, the witness said, “We weren’t given the opportunity to give the story with our child out of earshot”, which meant being exposed to more information than a child ought to have to cope with.
The witness described sharing information with other parents at the school who had also been accused, and noted that only children in Year 4 and Year 5—the years which P and Q had been in during the 2013–2014 school year—had been named as being involved in the “cult”.
Like the other witnesses so far, today’s witness described watching in horror as “the whole storm was snowballing”. They described seeing hundreds of comments per day on forums such as the David Icke forums, where the matter was being discussed openly. On certain pages, a great deal of discussion was taken up with attempting to identify the witness’ child.
Asked whether their family had received any official intervention, the witness said that in addition to their initial interaction with police, the family had been investigated by social services, who had interviewed the parents separately from the child. They did receive a letter from social services “clearing me from being a Satanic paedophile”.
The witness described finding a post from Sabine on the Whistleblower Kids blog dated 22 March 2015, in which Sabine stated, “In the video, the mother names all the abusers, which I do not approve of”. Nevertheless, the post contained a link to Sabine’s Google Drive, where a list of the alleged abusers could be found.
In response to questions from the prosecuting barrister, the witness stated that they had screenshot a number of links and pages on which the “20 special children and special parents” were listed by name, with personal contact details included.
Like the witness who testified last Thursday, today’s witness noted that in creating the list of alleged abusers, the class phone lists for Year 4 and Year 5 had been cut and pasted. The witness stated that the reason they knew where the list had come from was that the class phone lists had contained lists of nannies. “It was the only place this was collated in this way”, they said.
The witness described receiving death threats, and telling their child not to answer the house phone, as it could be somebody calling with another threat.
“It was beyond belief”, the witness said. “Our information was being used by a complete stranger on a website, and we were being inundated with threats. She used information that had been shared in friendship with Ella Draper, and then shared it on a website. We were receiving calls and emails asking if we killed babies, saying we weren’t going to get away with it, that they were coming to get us, that they would kill us”.
Asked about the protests at Christ Church Hampstead, the witness said that while they had been attending another church at the time, they did drive past Christ Church on one occasion and witnessed one protest in action.
“I saw videos of distressing things”, they said, noting one video in which the elderly vicar had been pursued by an angry mob.
“There was also an American campaigner screaming outside the church, ‘Do you fuck babies?’ ‘Do you eat babies?’ while parents were taking their children into the church”.
Referring to their witness statement, the witness identified several of those present during the demonstrations: Christine Sands, Paul Barbara, Neelu Berry, Belinda McKenzie, James McMenamin, Ray Savage, Ray Shaw, Araya Soma, John Taylor, and Kevin Weaver.
The witness described other manifestations of the hoax in Hampstead, including flyers under wipers on cars. People were seen lurking about the school, who were identified as having come there to “investigate” the situation. The witness said they felt fearful about this, as if these people would come to the school, they might also come to the houses of those on the lists published by Sabine.
“It was a really difficult time”, the witness said, describing opening the front door each morning, fearing that someone might have painted “paedophile” on it overnight. They began working from home, sitting in a place where they could better see what was happening outside the house.
“We varied our routes to and from school, and we were hyper-vigilant about anybody we didn’t know who was near the school”, they said. “Anybody who was not known, we would ask who it was, as there was a lot of talk about wanting to kidnap our children”.
Describing the counselling they and their child underwent in an effort to cope with the stress, the witness said that one of their child’s chief concerns revolved around a fear of Abraham Christie.
“He was malevolent and aggressive”, the witness said, “and my child had heard talk from P about him. My child felt he might harm her”. The witness added that in the run-up to this trial, some of their child’s fears have been revived, as their child is afraid something might happen to their parent.
Asked about the vast amount of material online, much of it having been posted by Sabine McNeill, the witness stated that their primary recourse had been to report the material to the police.
The prosecuting barrister reviewed a large number of pieces of evidence which had been screenshot and submitted in their witness statement. The material ranged from petitions on Change.org, links to Sabine’s Google Drive, videos on various platforms, and Sabine’s Whistleblower Kids blog, to interviews with other believers in the Hampstead hoax.
Angela Power-Disney was named as one such person, who was in touch with both Rupert Quaintance and Sabine McNeill. Describing Rupert’s videos, the witness said, “He made it clear that he wanted to come to Hampstead, kick down doors, and take blood samples from us”.
They also quoted Rupert from an interview on American Freedom Radio, saying that he would like to see those accused by Sabine go to prison, then come out and be punched by people like himself. “Let them go through life not knowing if someone is going to do something to them”, he said.
The witness stated that Sabine had contributed to Rupert’s GoFundMe campaign to come to the UK, and had offered him a place to stay while he was here. They said that his threats had caused distress and worry, and that it was a shock to discover that he had raised the money to come here. “I was fearful that he would turn up at our school or our homes”, the witness said.
The jury heard part of a video by Angela Power-Disney in which she interviewed Sabine. In the video, titled “Strategising with Sabine“, starting just past 44:00, Sabine stated,
For me…because this is what we are up against. On terms of victims, we know who they are, but on terms of grouping of perpetrators besides [RD]…Belinda always felt we need to go up to [RD], and I said, ‘No! I now want to get…’ and that’s the other angle that Liz Watson gave me, an investigative company for which we need to raise funds, because they can do all sorts of things. I want to get children—all of the 20 children heard, I mean, at least if P and Q can’t be found, then at least the other 18 and their parents…I want to know how many of them have been adopted for the purpose of being abused. This is not just about [RD] and (inaudible) police!”
Angela: “It’s not just the other 19 children, because Ella clarified this in an interview with me. She said it’s another 19 families, many of them have two children, some of them have three children. So it’s not just the other 18 or the other 19 children, it’s the other 19 families, with at least two children, many of them”.
Sabine: “That’s interesting, that’s good to know, I mean I haven’t numbered the names of the children (inaudible)”.
Angela: “…adopted or fostered”.
Sabine: “All of them?”
Angela: “Not all of them, but many of them have adopted children or fostered children, many of them, yeah, and I think this is another common thread”.
Closing today’s testimony, the witness said, “I can’t understand how somebody can take such rubbish across the internet. It horrifies me. That’s my child, and she has dragged [my child] all across the internet!”
Court adjourned at about 4:30, and will resume tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.