“I’m Ella Garriba Draper,” the woman says directly to the camera.
“I’m fighting for my child. This has been unstoppable for the past seven years.”
Ella sounds educated and sensible. So it sounds all the more shocking what the striking 50-year-old man says in a video posted on his social media.
Her two children, she claims, were horrifically abused by a Satanic cult while attending primary school in Hampstead, North London, home to celebrities including actress Helena Bonham Carter.
Instead of investigating the cult, Ella claims, police covered it up.
“It’s time for humanity to put an end to this industry.”
I can’t help but feel sorry for Ella.
She says she fled the UK in 2015 because of police corruption, leaving her children in the hands of a cult.
She hasn’t seen them since.
But as I found out when I researched this story for my podcast, Hoaxed, what comes out of Ella’s mouth is rarely true.
She is at the center of what I believe to be the UK’s most serious online conspiracy.
A modern-day satanic panic that shows how quickly lies can spread online, and the failure of both the police and the social media giants to crack down on them.
The Hampstead hoax left a trail of destruction and still hurts people.
The children’s father was forced into hiding after being falsely targeted as a pedophile and named on a “list” of 175 alleged cultists compiled by Ella and posted online. Internet trolls later attacked dozens of other families in Hampstead.
It contains the names, contact information, addresses and cell phone numbers of the parents, teachers and students of the beautiful Hampstead school Ella’s children attend.
Despicable accusations had been made, with some names claiming to be Satanists who had sex with children, drank the blood of their victims, and danced with baby skulls.
A mother named , was so stressed out that she couldn’t sleep for four years.
Another woman said of her daughter:
“We have received death threats by phone, email and social media.
“We had to tell our daughter not to answer the phone.”
So how did we get to this point?
Ella’s story begins in the 1990s. A Russian-born art history graduate student turned yoga teacher, Ella married a wealthy English banker and moved to Hampstead.
After breaking up a few years later, Ella started dating an actor named David* with whom she has two children.
But by 2014, they were embroiled in an ugly custody battle, with allegations of violence on both sides.
Ella started dating a new man, Abraham Christie.
Abraham, now 66, believed that hemp, the herb from which cannabis is derived, was life-giving.
He asked Ella’s children to drink hemp smoothies and call him “Papa Hemp.”
In July 2014, the family went on vacation to Morocco.
Ella and Abraham claim it was there that the then 10-year-old children told them about being abused by their father, David, school teachers, and fellow parents.
When they returned to London, the children repeated their allegations to the police.
I’ve seen videos of their interviews. There, it explains how the cult carried out a terror involving the sacrifice of a baby at a local church.
Police searched the church but were unable to find a shred of evidence, perhaps unsurprisingly.
In mid-September, police questioned the children again, but this time for a different story.
They were told by the police that they were pressured by Ella and Abraham to lie, and Abraham kicked them, hit them over the head with a metal spoon, and poured water on their head, so they told them exactly what they were doing. I told the truth that I couldn’t breathe.
The police called off the investigation.
But, unusually, they did not bring Abraham in for questioning, much less arrest him on suspicion of child abuse.
The case then moved to Family Court, where a judge had to decide who should have custody of Ella and David’s children.
Ella chose to represent herself. That meant she had access to all the evidence, including videos of children being interrogated by the police and sensitive materials like medical reports.
At this point, Ella enlisted the help of Sabine McNeill, an informal legal adviser known as a friend of McKenzie. Sabine McNeill is a person who attends trials as a non-professional helper or advisor to litigants who do not have legal representation in court.
Sabine has long believed that family courts are corrupt.
She was convinced they “stole” thousands of children each year.
So when she thinks the judge in Ella’s case is going to take her children away, Sabine decides to take the plunge.
In January 2015, she obtained Ella’s classified material (videos of her children’s police interviews, medical reports, etc.) and put them all online.
She also released a list of alleged cult members named by Ella, as well as personal details of 175 people she said were involved in the abuse.
A video of children telling police that a cult exists soon went viral on conspiracy blogs in the US and UK.
The family court judge was furious and sent the police to Ella’s house to explain why such sensitive data is now in the public domain.
After getting stuck, Ella ran into the backyard and climbed the fence to run. The next day she fled to Spain and Abraham followed the next day.
She has not returned to the UK since.
Her children were taken care of and then returned to their father.
Days after the trial ended, thanks to Sabine’s encouragement, dozens of angry protesters came to Hampstead Elementary School, yelling “Pedophiles!” And “Murderers!” at parents and teachers.
One US blogger specifically flew to London and viciously threatened to “kick in the door.”
It didn’t matter that a family court judge specifically ruled in March 2015 that Satanism does not exist. The hoaxes kept growing.
For those targeted, it was terrifying.
Luckily there was a group ready to fight back.
They included a parent on Ella’s list, a teacher from Birmingham, and 64-year-old mystery writer Karen Irving, 3,000 miles away in Ottawa, Canada.
In May 2015, the group started the blog Hoaxtead.
This had two main purposes. Getting the social media giants to remove links to the children’s videos and gathering evidence against the hoaxers that can ultimately be used to bring charges in court.
The group reported thousands of links to Google and other platforms asking them to remove the child’s videos.
They also collected evidence that they handed over to the police.
9 years in prison
Thanks to these efforts, Sabine was put on trial in November 2018 for stalking and harassing Hampstead’s parents over the years.
In her 2019 sentencing remarks, KC Judge Sally Cahill said the case against Sabine was “one of the most serious cases of stalking and restraining order violations that could occur.”
Sabine was sentenced to nine years in prison. This is the longest prison sentence ever handed down by a British court for harassment and stalking.
All this happened before I started investigating this case last year.
By then, Sabine had served four years in prison and was deported to her native Germany.
But neither Ella nor Abraham, the creators of the hoax, faced the consequences of what they allegedly did to Ella’s children.
I felt this had to change, so I spent weeks tracking down Ella and Abraham and delving into their past.
According to my research, Abraham now lives in Marrakech, a major tourist city in Morocco.
He wasn’t home when I went looking for him.
Two sources said he had returned to the UK.
British police have issued a new statement after learning that Abraham may be in London.
A spokesperson said: “Following new information that came to light in August 2022, officers reopened an investigation into a child abuse he reportedly occurred in Hampstead in 2014.”
After an eight-year hiatus, at least now, it seemed like something was going on.
And Ella? After contacting her through another conspiracy theorist, I spoke with her for hours on her Zoom call.
At first she was friendly.
But the more I pushed her, the colder she got.
Eventually she cut off contact and threatened legal action against me.
When we reached out to the social media company for comment, they deleted Ella and Abraham’s main accounts and cut off a lot of their support.
However, Ella still posts videos under her new identity and asks people to donate to her “legal fund.”
Abraham managed to escape arrest in England and return to Marrakech.
So, on one level, my efforts to hold victims accountable have failed.
Still, for some victims of hoaxes, the situation is not as dire as it once was.
One person told me:
“I can finally sleep at night.”
*The name has been changed
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