Police inertia allowed Hampstead hoax to grow

In the most recent video on the Hoaxtead Research YouTube channel, we addressed an issue which hasn’t really been publicly aired in the past: how was the outcome of this hoax shaped by the reactions (or non-reactions) of the police?

Yesterday, regular commenter Steved observed,

The accusers who may find themselves either in jail or facing huge public settlements for damages—many of these people seem unaware of just how dangerous a fine line they are treading here—if [some victims] had decided to do things differently, then many of these hoaxers would literally be penniless and possibly in jail…

The idea that the victims of the Hampstead SRA hoax could have done things differently is a common one.

To most observers, it seems obvious that had the falsely accused parents, teachers, clergy, and businesses chosen to lay charges against those who were harassing them, the police would have swooped in and started arresting the instigators and promoters of the hoax, and four years of agony could have been avoided.

Ideally, this would have happened within days or weeks of the hoax going online: a swift and decisive police response would seem to have been the obvious solution. Arrest and charge the main players, send a strong message, and stop the thing in its tracks.

Instead, what we saw from the outside was a strange sort of complacency: Sabine, Ella, and Abraham somehow managed to slip past the police in February 2015, and the hoax sympathisers who screamed obscenities at church-goers did so with impunity for the most part. As mentioned in the video, arrests were made, and while Christine Ann Sands was deported back to the United States, Neelu Berry’s trial on charges of “vexing a priest” collapsed when the CPS barrister failed to turn up.

While it might have seemed reasonable for an outside observer to assume that the police’s failure to act against the dozens of other hoax promoters was due to the victims’ passivity, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the victims were flooding the police with demands for action. They were combing the internet every night in an effort to protect themselves and their children, screen-shotting what they found, collecting links to images and threats and damaging material, and passing this along to the police, who kept reassuring them that action would be taken.

Those reassurances, it turns out, were false.

While a few people—including Belinda McKenzie—received police visits, none were arrested, none had their computers seized to look for evidence, and none faced charges in court.

Long-time readers might recall that during Ella’s appeal of the Pauffley judgment in August 2015, Belinda McKenzie and Tracey Morris were both served with injunctions intended to prevent them from spreading the hoax any further. Tracey blithely ignored hers, claiming (accurately, as it turned out) that it “wasn’t worth the paper it was written on”. Belinda left the UK for a brief sojourn in France, but slunk back into the country a few weeks later, and carried on as before.

Sabine, of course, was famously arrested at the Royal Courts of Justice, having just returned from Germany; however, for reasons which were never made clear, the police “NFA’d” her case in December of that year.

During her 2018 trial, her defence barrister Tana Adkin QC made a point of mentioning this, as though the lack of police response proved that her client had done nothing wrong. We now know that to Sabine, having her police charges dismissed was a clear signal that she could carry on promoting the Hampstead hoax with no consequences.

This weak police response was typical, and it carried on for more than a year and a half. It was not in any way endorsed by the hoax’s victims, who continued to grow more and more frustrated that the police seemed to be giving the hoaxers carte blanche, while completely ignoring the victims’ plight. For their part, the hoaxers quickly realised that they could do as they pleased…and they did.

In January 2016, the victims’ hopes were raised with the arrests of Sabine and Neelu on charges of witness intimidation. However, that case fell apart in court following the defence’s half-time submissions. While the net result of that trial was the restraining order which would prove part of Sabine’s undoing, it felt like yet another failure of the law to protect the victims.

It would not be until another officer, DC Steve Martin, took over the case in August 2016 that the victims at last started to get the decisive response they had been pushing for. If you were reading the blog at that time, you would have seen the arrests mounting: 13 in the space of a couple of months.

This was an exciting development, but it proved too little, too late. The hoax had had a year and a half to grow and spread, and the hoaxers, including Sabine, had grown accustomed to running amok.

We don’t know exactly why the hoax victims’ complaints were ignored for so long. Did the police misguidedly believe that the Hampstead hoax was merely a flash in the pan, something which would peak quickly and subside with little permanent harm done? Was their nonchalance about it the result of incompetence, or an inability or unwillingness to grasp the ways and workings of the internet? Was it inexperience in dealing with conspiracy believers? Was it some combination of these things? We don’t know.

Whatever caused it, though, we can say with certainty that the lack of appropriate, timely, and effective police response was in no way a reflection of the victims’ wishes. They pushed—hard—against police inertia and empty promises. But until the case changed hands, that boulder simply would. Not. Move.

16 thoughts on “Police inertia allowed Hampstead hoax to grow

  1. One option I was thinking of was civil action against the hoaxers (ie suing for damages)- not exactly the UK way of thinking (unlike the US where sneezing over someone is a basis for suing lol)
    Unfortunately until fairly recently here in Australia, it wold have been an iffy case (and I suspect the same would have been the same in the UK)- possibly why it wasn’t considered as an option, not to mention the expense

    The police responce was IMHO, inexcusable- unfortunately many people did (and some still do) think that ‘it’s only the internet, just ignore it and it will go away’
    In some cases this might even happen, unfortunately when ‘the conspiracy’ people get involved, this rarely happens and if allowed to fester, you end up where people who believe in these thing (many who may have mental issues) stop ‘writing about it’ and start ‘doing something’

    Hampstead was lucky in a way, to date although some did start poking about in person (and thankfully the police DID start responding to this), some even traveling from abroad to do so, they haven’t had anyone physically attacked (as yet). Regular readers would remember there have been some threats that although not carried out were blood-curdling enough (a certain person whose threats of using a woodchipper would be terrifying to the poor parents and children involved I suspect)

    Many will even now laugh off such threats as ‘it’s just the internet- turn it off’ but they fail to realise the issues involved- one regular hoaxer here in Australia has been sectioned TWICE, and is still currently under ‘treatment’, however it hasn’t seemed to have changed his attitude- and remember this particular ‘gentleman’ had a previous conviction for discharging a unlicenced pistol in a dispute with a motorcycle gang- something that tends to be frowned upon here…

    Another case that springs to mind when ‘conspiracy theorists’ took action was the well published attack on the business at the center of the ‘Pizzagate’ affair, where a man actually discharged a rifle inside the pizza shop while ‘looking for the children’- being held in a non existent basement that the staff ‘refused to show him’…

    Add the effect this can have on a person’s reputation if it get into their local community- even if proven innocent, accusations of being a pedophile can destroy a persons reputation long after the ‘conspiritards’ have moved on to a new victim, but they never forget and will randomly drag it back up again and renew the cycle with fresh ‘outraged dupes’ re attacking the victims again even years later
    Sorry for this length of this ‘novel’ btw

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, don’t apologise, you’ve raised some excellent points. Interestingly, some of the victims have told me they were keen to sue the hoaxers, but were told by the police that it would be prohibitively expensive (true), that they wouldn’t find it worthwhile financially (possibly true), and that they could rely on the police to handle it (not true for the first 19 or 20 months).

      As you say, the victims have had to face the constant danger that this could turn into physical violence. We heard at Sabine’s trial about some of the steps which victims had to take to protect their children and themselves, and while that danger seems to have subsided somewhat, it’s the sort of thing that would always stay in the back of one’s mind, I should think.

      As for reputations (and businesses) ruined, it’s nearly impossible to put a monetary value to the damage that’s been done—and there is no doubt in my mind that that was one of the primary goals of this hoax. Ella and Abraham wanted to destroy anybody who’d ever annoyed them in any way, and how better to wreck your enemies’ lives than to accuse them of hideous crimes, and convince your gullible followers your allegations are true? The repercussions of this thing are going to be felt for many years to come, I’m afraid.

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      • It’s a shame that they didn’t catch Abe and Ella when they had the chance, the damage they caused to the community is staggering when you consider that even now, when the kids and dad resurfaced publicly, they were promptly attacked with renewed vigor, businesses closed, some people felt that threatened that they felt compelled to sell their houses and move away from the area…

        All because of the lies that a psychotic mother (who really didn’t seem to give two hoots about the poor kids anyway) and her drug addict new boyfriend came up with, just to ‘get back’ at anyone they felt had slighted them…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well that was bad advice about suing and wrong. There was an excellent case for sueing them and co-joining them as a bunch of defendents including McKenzie who certainly could not afford to lose and would have been forced to settle fairly quickly. The mob who survive on benefits (McNeil) would have been forced to cease their actions or face court again. However I don’t blame anyone for being apprehensive about involving themselves in such a case as it can be very debilitating.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. On this subject, something I do not understand is this

    In your lats video (I think) you reported that the police’s initial investigations into the hoax revealed that the 2 innocent children at the centre of the hoax had been assaulted by Abe but that the police deduced that the assaults were not sufficient to press criminal charges against Abe (and possibly Ella?).

    However later on it became apparent that the children had in fact been tortured by Abe with Ella’s compliance.

    So I am left wondering whether the police / Dr Hodes missed the fact that the girl had a red mark on her chin where Abe had pressed a hot spoon against it, the boy had a ruptured eardrum as a result of a violent assault from Abe and that both children were malnourished.

    It seems to me that either the police or Dr Hodes or possibly both have some lessons to learn regarding identifying injuries and the physical condition of children in relation to abuse and neglect.

    However nothing has been said in the public domain about this. Nobody has, to my knowledge, apologised to the children and / or made statements about “lessons will be learned”.

    Just what are we supposed to deduce from this mystifying lack of contrition and apologies?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure, but that the assaults happened overseas left them in a bit of a quandary when it came to pressing charges- I know that ‘in theory’ it shouldn’t matter where it happened, but in practice it does…
      Add the reduced funding for both the Police and Social Services, and you have a ‘perfect storm’

      Liked by 1 person

      • British subjects are prosecuted for child sex offences committed abroad. This was child abuse so I can”t understand why Abe wasn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, but child sex abuse is covered by specific legislation, which enables them to be prosecuted under that specific legislation, I am not sure that simple assault charges would be covered outside the country (we would probably need a solicitor to find out for sure)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, exactly Steved. Child abuse charges were certainly considered, but in the end since the children stated that the abuse had only occurred in Morocco, the idea had to be dropped. This would not rule out other charges in future, however. One need only look to the current Newcastle trial to see what happens when people are suspected of having made up stories to the police.

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        • But could Abe and Ella not be prosecuted for coaching and quizzing the children in the UK (some videos made of child eating breakfast in the UK? Abe encourages a child to describe sexual acts, for his own sexual gratification in the UK. Ella allowed him to do that so is complicit in it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I agree, and I’m not sure what the rationale for this might have been. I expect it will all come out at some point, when Abraham and Ella return, voluntarily or otherwise, to the UK.

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    • It’s a good question, and is partially answered by listening to the third interview with the girl, as well as looking at the CRIS report. In the interview, the officer asks her several times where the abuse took place, and each time she confirms that it was only in Morocco, and that Abraham never hit them while they were in the UK. Later, the CRIS report notes that police considered charging Abraham, but had ascertained that the abuse had not occurred in the UK, and that this meant no charges could be laid.

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  3. The real problem is that this case was fairly unique and not something coppers face every day. Those SRA inquiries from the past seem meaningless as they just fade into the ether until a new drama develops. Look at the madness of ‘Nick’ and Yewtree whatever the truth is. Politicians, police are still not up to speed on cyber abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very much the same attitude rape victims get: if they’d only done X differently, it wouldn’t have happened. Much easier than contemplating how badly the system can fail, or how easy something awful can hit us at random.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As in other instances where the core players in this disgraceful situation have gone on and on, the police have failed to understand (or be bothered to understand) the seriousness – passing it off as some online spat – which is far from the reality.

    It is interesting to note, that despite very solid evidence being passed to the police of very serious crimes and intentions, none of the prosecutions have been related to these. The prosecutions that have taken place have mostly (if not all) been related to legal proceedings and orders.

    For example, there have been no prosecutions for the intention to kidnap the children – which is well documented as being at an advanced stage of consideration by members of the group – including an ex-police officer (the one with the caravan park in Sussex). The police have this evidence but there has been no investigation (as far as we are aware) into these crimes.

    Overall, there have been instances where any reasonable person would expect the police to take evidence seriously and investigate it where the police have failed to do so.

    It is quite disgraceful. Justice has not be done in this case.

    Sabiine should have been prosecuted for far more than she was, and be serving a much longer sentence, as should McKenzie and friends.

    Liked by 1 person

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