Today in the morning at Southwark Crown Court, the jury heard the remainder of DC Steve Martin’s testimony, the defence’s cross-examination, and a list of “agreed facts”—basically, the facts of the case upon which both prosecution and defence were in agreement.
In the afternoon, the defence opened with Sabine in the witness box…but first, let’s take a look at the morning’s events.
Witness 7: DC Steve Martin, continued
Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, asked DC Martin whether Sabine had claimed that she attended the Church of England Synod in February 2018 in order to gain core participant status with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Martin agreed that this was the case.
However, he said, Sabine had already been denied core participant status. This notification was sent by email, but Sabine did not receive it because at the time, her bail conditions forbade her from using the internet.
Asked when the videos of P and Q had first appeared in Sabine’s Google Drive, Martin said that the earliest date, upon which four videos had been uploaded, was 4 January 2015.
Tana Adkin QC asked Martin about a the document, titled “London Baby-Eaters of Hampstead”, found on HampsteadChristChurch, the blog belonging to Christine Sands. On Friday, Adkin said, Martin had referred to two links at the bottom of that page; she asked about the source of those links.
Martin agreed that the links had been to Tap NewsWire, not to Whistleblower Kids.
Tana noted that Sands’ blog had approximately 19,000 views. Did Martin know the number of views on the Whistleblower Kids site? He replied that he did not know this, and that the site is now defunct in any event.
“‘Page views’ counts all the pages viewed, not just those from people who believe the hoax, is that correct?” Adkin asked. Martin said that this is correct. Adkin noted that by contrast with Sands’ page, Hoaxtead Research has had 1.6 million views. [1,673,000 and a bit, but who’s counting?—Ed.]
Regarding Martin’s testimony that Sabine’s email to Theresa May had not contained a bcc, Adkin asked, “What you were doing was looking at Sabine’s computer for this evidence?”
“I went through her email folder line by line, and this was identified in the course of that,” Martin replied.
Asked whether a bcc line would necessarily show up on a printout of the email, Martin stated that he did not know.
Turning to the issue of the red nail-varnish-covered dolls, Adkin asked whether any had actually turned up in any Hampstead businesses.
“None were reported to my knowledge”, Martin said. Similarly, he said that while witnesses had received multiple threats, no one ever went to their homes as threatened.
Asked whether the witnesses had reported receiving threatening emails and phone calls, Martin said he was unable to comment, as he had not been involved in that aspect of the case until 2016. He stated that to his knowledge, one email had been followed up: a female who was bed-ridden and mentally ill had been visited and warned about her behaviour.
Referring to Rupert Quaintance, Adkin asked Martin to clarify that Quaintance had only been convicted of two of the five offences with which he’d been charged, and had been acquitted on the other three. Martin agreed that this was the case.
Turning to the issue of “good character”, Martin confirmed that prior to the Hampstead matter, Sabine had no previous convictions; nor had she had any face-to-face confrontations with the witnesses.
Adkin noted that for her part, Sabine had made police complaints about a brick which had been thrown through her window. On another occasion, her telephone lines had been cut. Martin said that he would not have been involved in those cases, as they were criminal damage complaints.
Noting that a previous witness had said that Sabine stopped posting online when she was imprisoned on remand, Adkin said that in December 2017, Sabine’s bail conditions prohibited her from having access to the internet, and that from that point on she had made no further posts. Martin agreed that this was so.
During re-examination, Moore asked Martin to clarify whether Hoaxtead Research is a blog which supports belief in the Hampstead hoax. “No, they debunk the allegations”, Martin said.
Regarding threats received, either by Sabine or by the complainants, Moore asked whether these represented the entirety of the threats in this case.
“No, they are ongoing and much wider than this inquiry”, Martin said.
Statement of agreed facts
HHJ Sally Cahill QC told the jury that the statement of agreed facts is another form of evidence which should be considered along with the oral and written material they have already received. This statement represents the matters of the case upon which the Crown and defence agree.
Moore read out the statement. The jury heard that Sabine first opened her Twitter account in 2008, using an email registered to 3D Metrics. The domain for Whistleblower Kids was registered on 15 March 2015.
The 19 March 2015 Pauffley judgment was read into the record, including the following:
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 perpetuate them are evil and / or foolish.
All the indications are that over a period of some weeks last summer, P and Q were forced by Mr Christie and Ms Draper, working in partnership, to provide concocted accounts of horrific events. 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. Subsequently, at the instigation of Abraham Christie and Ella Draper, the children repeated their false stories to Jean-Clement Yaohirou, Mr Christie’s brother in law, in a late night discussion. It lasted for about three hours; Mr Christie and Ms Draper did most of the talking.
P and Q were ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) interviewed on 5, 11 and 17 September 2014. On the first two occasions, they supplied information about events they claimed had occurred, similar in their overall content to the mobile ‘phone video clips and audio recording. On 17 September, in ABE interview, both children withdrew their allegations. Each stated they had been made to say things by Abraham Christie, the mother’s partner, which were not true; and they gave very full details of the way in which he had secured their compliance.
This is a summary of my salient findings –
• Neither child has been sexually abused by any of the following – [their father], teachers at Christchurch Primary School Hampstead, the parents of students at that school, the priest at the adjacent church, teachers at any of the Hampstead or Highgate schools, members of the Metropolitan Police, social workers employed by the London Borough of Camden, officers of Cafcass or anyone else mentioned by Ms Draper or Mr Christie.
• The children’s half brother, his father and stepmother…are likewise exonerated of any illicit or abusive acts involving the children.
• There was no satanic or other cult at which babies were murdered and children were sexually abused.
• All of the material promulgated by Ms Draper now published on the internet is nothing other than utter nonsense.
• The children’s false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse. Torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper.
• 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.
• 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.
Agreed facts include various statements by Sabine, extracted from her Skype chat account. These include the statement on 20 February 2015 that she planned to upload the police videos next.
While being questioned following her arrest in August 2015 at the Royal Courts of Justice, Sabine made a number of statements during her police interview:
- “I have never uploaded the videos”.
- “I have uploaded the videos to a private Google account”.
- “I have removed the videos from my Google Drive”.
Following Sabine’s trial with Neelu Berry at Blackfriars Crown Court in July 2016, she received and signed a restraining order, which sought to prevent further publication of material concerning Hampstead. At that time, Sabine’s counsel informed her that the terms of the restraining order prevented her from republishing older material as well; the judge in the case confirmed that this was correct.
In October 2016, when Sabine pleaded guilty to breaching her restraining order, Judge Shetty noted that he would describe her breach as more technical in nature. Sabine should assume that the order would be in place all her life.
“If you commit any further breaches”, Shetty said, “I doubt the court would be merciful”. He stated that it was “about time to put all this nonsense behind you, and go on with the rest of your life”, adding that any further breach of the restraining order could result in her being sentenced.
The statement of agreed facts included a chronology of Sabine’s arrests, as well as a list of three videos: one in which Sabine is interviewed with Alfred Lambremont-Webre; one entitled “Hampstead confidential”; and one entitled “Strategising with Sabine”.
This concluded the prosecution’s case. Court adjourned to 2:00 p.m., at which time the defence would present its case.
Witness: Sabine McNeill
Seated in the witness box and sounding quite subdued, Sabine told the jury something of her personal history.
Born in 1944 in Silesia, Sabine described her mother having to flee the Dresden firestorm. Sabine achieved a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computing, and took a job at CERN in 1964, where she diagnosed software used by scientists. She worked at CERN on the payroll until 1979, and left in 1981. In 1973, she went to Berkeley in California, and during a trip with a physicist friend, was in a car crash during which Sabine’s hip was dislocated.
Doctors suggested that her chronic pain was psychological, which led her to an interest in psychology, which in turn led her to organise four psychological conferences in Europe. She described meeting her future husband, Ian McNeill, at a conference in Wales; they were married several years later.
When her marriage broke up several years later, Sabine remained in the UK, as “there was no reason not to”. Following the end of her marriage, Sabine worked as an event organiser.
She described her early work on computers, prior to the advent of the internet, and her involvement in the first internet café in London. She met Lord Sudeley, and helped him to set up the Forum for Stable Currencies, which Sabine described as an outgrowth of her interest in fighting inequality and poverty.
Sabine described meeting people who had been made bankrupt fraudulently, noting that one of her projects had been to assemble a list of the “worst of all cases”.
Through this, she said she learned about McKenzie friends—lay legal advisors who “hold a person’s hand” in court. Asked whether she became a McKenzie friend, Sabine said her main contribution was to write one-page legal summaries and put them on a website. This site became her Victims Unite! blog.
Referring to the “secrecy of the family courts”, Sabine said that she expected such rules were put in place to protect the identity of the children involved. However, she said, her concern was around parents who wanted to get their children back. This is how she met Ella Draper, she said.
Ella phoned Sabine in 2014, Sabine said. Adkin noted that by November 2014, Sabine was already involved in Ella’s case, and that Ella had already reported her ex-partner to the police.
“She emailed me a document to disclose what the children had told her”, Sabine said, though she said she could not remember whether it was the same document which Adkin showed the jury.
Sabine said she invited Ella to come and see her, as Ella had said she wanted her children back, and had sacked her lawyers.
“She was saying she had been in Morocco with her partner because they were on holiday, and that the children had decided to break their deal with their father”, Sabine said. “She couldn’t believe it herself, she was so shocked. She described to me what they had told her”. Ella gave her the videos later.
Asked whether she had ever questioned Ella’s story, Sabine said she had had “no reason not to believe the children”, and that she had not investigated their claims. “Over Christmas, she left the videos with me” on CDs or DVDs”, she said.
Sabine said she first looked at the videos in January, and that she “vaguely remembered the impact they had on her. She said she was shocked, especially because the alleged abuse was taking place “right around the corner” from her own home.
“I didn’t have any reason not to believe”, Sabine said. “I was too trusting. In hindsight, things look different”.
She said that while she was in touch with Ella daily, she fell out with Abraham Christie quite quickly.
Adkin asked Sabine whether her Google Drive had had something happen to it around this time. Sabine said she’d written to the Barnet councillors, and had uploaded links to the videos as the “most convincing evidence”.
“Barnet Council, then, was the first agency to receive all the videos?” Adkin asked.
“I think so”, Sabine said. She stated they had not been copied to anybody else.
Sabine described “putting a lot of time and effort” into helping Ella. They wanted the police to reinvestigate the case, and to that end Sabine had prepared other legal documents for her: an affidavit, and a judicial review against the police.
“The police had closed the investigation after 12 days”, she said, “so I found an expert who critiqued the police report”. She helped Ella file the papers at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Sabine said her first introduction to Abraham Christie was “strange”: “He came pretty close to me, and said, “I. AM. ABRAHAM”. She said she had asked Ella whether it was “true love” with Abraham, and Ella had replied, “Support”.
Sabine said she knew Abraham had had an influence with P and Q: “He got the children to talk”, she said.
However, after a few meetings with Abraham, Sabine said that they had fallen out. While she could not recall the exact issue, she said she found him “appalling” in his way of talking and thinking.
When Abraham rejoined Ella in London, Sabine said her relationship with Ella changed.
Adkin asked, “Did you suspect in January at that stage that the children might have been lying?”
Sabine said she had not. “For me, the consistency of the story, and the way Ella put it together, was convincing”. She said Ella had told her stories about how P and Q were really nasty to Abraham and Ella.
Adkin asked, “Having met Abraham, did you think he’d been the cause” of the children’s stories?
“He had an influence”, Sabine said, adding that she had not known that “licks” had meant “hitting the children on the side of the head with a spoon”. Ella and Abe’s “big connection was hemp”, which Abraham touted as a recipe for eternal life.
“I cared for the children”, Sabine said. “Ella told me that the reason she took the children to the police was to help the other 20 children”.
“What did you think of this?” Adkin asked.
“I believed it”.
Adkin asked whether Sabine had watched all the videos of P and Q.
“I watched quite a few hours”, Sabine said. “I wasn’t looking for anything; I saw what I saw and I heard what I heard. It was a shocking experience”.
She said that Ella had given her the police videos in late December or early January 2015. She said it took her ages to watch them, and that she believed the police had concealed evidence during their investigation of the children’s claims. While the police had said that the crime was not confirmed, the expert she had brought in had said the investigation was not good enough.
Adkin said, “Ella Draper talked to you, and the videos were given to you—did you have other evidence?”
Sabine said she also had the medical reports, in which anal scarring had been confirmed. “That was another tick”, she said.
Adkin asked, “Were you looking for the negative side of the account?”
“No,” said Sabine. “It was my naïvety, I’d seen so many cases, and this was the worst I’d ever come across”.
Asked whether viewing the interview with P and Q’s father on television had changed her mind, Sabine said, “I’m afraid not”.
“For me”, she said, “Satanic ritual abuse was a new thing. It was the first time children had confirmed what adult survivors had said”. Noting that she had been involved in issues such as forced adoption and child trafficking up to that point, she said her first reaction was, “Is this real? Can this possibly be true?”
Adkin asked whether Sabine had sought information from other sources. Sabine said she’d heard from others who commented on her blog, and that she’d heard about a Canadian therapist’s experience with other survivors of SRA.
“How do you know Angela Power-Disney?” Adkin asked. Sabine said that she’d known her online only, and that she was a sexual abuse survivor, like Becki Percy.
“How do you know they are abuse survivors?”
“They told me”, Sabine said. She said one of the biggest problems she’d had with Angela Power-Disney was her habit of putting people on YouTube without their permission.
Sabine said she had met Belinda McKenzie at a meeting at the Royal Courts of Justice, and that she found her “broad-minded”, though not as interested in monetary issues as Sabine was.
Asked how she met Neelu Berry, Sabine said Neelu had lost her niece, and that this had led to her losing her pharmacist licence. “I don’t remember our initial contact”, she said.
She said she had met “Jacqui Farmer” under a different name—Charlotte Ward—at Belinda’s house. “She had filed another case about the removal of a child”, she recalled. “It was a Belgian guy”.
She stated she had never met Christine Sands in person, but that they had spoken on Skype. “I was aware she had been shouting at the church”, she said.
Asked how all these people had influenced her, Sabine said, “They convinced me that what the children said was true”.
Adkin asked what Sabine had thought when she first saw the Pauffley judgment.
“I was shocked”, Sabine said. “I could not imagine that a judge was so black and white. And ‘evil and/or foolish’? To describe somebody like me?”
“Did you agree with her judgment?”
“No, I’m afraid not”, Sabine said.
“Did the judgment make you question your beliefs?”
“No, it didn’t. Comments were coming in as critical of the judge. I had to take them down because of the trolls….I did take notice, I did write a critique. I did what I did because Pauffley had no intention to return the children to Ella”.
Adkin asked Sabine about trolls.
“They are anyone who uses a non-real avatar”, she said. “They sully others’ sites”. As an example, she cited “a particular guy whose 12-year-old daughter was taken away. He was nasty”.
Asked whether anything had affected her opinion, Sabine said, “Only this court case has begun to open my eyes”.
How did the videos get online?
In response to a question about when the first mention of the children’s allegations had appeared on the internet, Sabine said that during her August 2015 arrest on her return from Berlin, somebody had produced a statement saying that the P and Q videos were online prior to their release in early 2015.
Regarding her email to Theresa May, she said she had sent it to notify May’s office that the petition on Change.org would be sending her a notification every time anybody signed it. She said she had added the bcc to Henry Curteis at Tap NewsWire because his blog was “very wide-ranging” and she felt he needed to be informed.
Adkin suggested that it hadn’t occurred to Sabine that when Curteis received the bcc, he would also receive the emails.
“I wasn’t thinking about that”, Sabine said. She said that she’d sent the email to May out of desperation, as she felt that Barnet Council would not return the children, so “where could I go? They were with foster carers!”
Sabine said that she had not set up her Google Drive for the purpose of sharing the videos of P and Q. She said the settings on the drive varied from file to file. Adkin asked how the Drive was set up, but Sabine responded that she hasn’t been online for a year, so she did not recall how she organised the folders.
However, she said, “I made the big, big mistake of not checking the settings. I had left the top folder open—it was stupid, what else can I say?”
Adkin asked whether, when Sabine sent the videos to May and Curteis, it had occurred to her what was in the videos.
“At that stage, I did not know what I know since this trial”, Sabine said. “I did not realise about the other children they named”. She added that other things P and Q had said, such as their reference to intergenerational patterns of abuse, had helped to convince her that the allegations they were making were true.
“Did it occur to you that this would provide a way of identifying the other children?” Adkin asked.
“That is where I just failed miserably”, Sabine said. “I’m sorry to say that when I saw what I saw and heard what I heard (during this trial), I felt embarrassed and sorry, sorry, sorry”.
Sabine said that during a witness’s testimony about Ella’s list of alleged abusers actually being a class list, the truth had begun to dawn. “When I went through that bundle, I began to question Ella”, she said.
Adkin asked Sabine to describe the “initial document”. Sabine said she’d produced different versions of the 11-page document which Ella wrote, in which the “20 special children” and their parents were named.
“I only know now that it is a big, big question mark”, Sabine said. “I thought it was a list gathered by the children in Morocco”.
“When you saw that list with the names and information about people identified as abusers”, Adkin asked, “did you have any idea what that would mean?”
Sabine said, “Now that I have seen what I saw, why did I not know how people would be affected? Why only today?…For me, it was a story. I could kill myself for not editing the names out. It was unforgivable. I’m really sorry”.
Adkin asked why Sabine had left the details in the Excel spread sheet she’d made.
“I had not woken up”, Sabine said. “I didn’t realise”. She said that she is more interested in numbers, and “this list came up with all these incredible numbers”. She added that she had not numbered the children and parents to be mean—she just wanted the exact figure.
“I have a special relationship with numbers”, she said. “I found the numbers in [a witness’s] statement. Now I know it’s a class list, I know how likely it is that they are all innocent parents”.
Turning to the issue of Rupert Quaintance, Sabine said she had met him through Angela Power-Disney. She had contributed to his GoFundMe as a gesture of support, because “anyone willing to put their time and energy into this was okay with me”.
By the time she met Quaintance, she said, “it had all been arranged by other people”. She added, “I thought he would go to pubs and investigate”.
Asked what she thought he might do, Sabine said, “Whatever he wanted, and make videos. There was no special plan. Everybody was self-motivated”. She said she had found Quaintance to be “brash, full of bravado…it’s an American thing”.
Sabine said that while they spoke on Skype, when they did meet she found him “pretty offensive”.
While she admitted to sending Quaintance the Excel spreadsheet, she didn’t think he really took it on board.
“Did you think he might contact them?” Adkin asked.
“No”, Sabine said, adding that she didn’t know what he was going to do in the UK. She called his bragging about urinating on Christ Church Hampstead “horrible…embarrassing”.
Court adjourned at about 4:15 p.m., and Sabine’s testimony will continue tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.