Fingers Pulled From Bag in Court

BBC News, August 1, 2008

A woman caused uproar in court when she pulled two fingers from her handbag claiming they had belonged to one of her six children.

Remi Fakorede, who was convicted of a £925,000 tax credit fraud, told London’s Snaresbrook Crown court they had fallen off following a curse.

She said the same voodoo curse had caused her to participate in the fraud.

The 46-year-old from Hackney was convicted of fraud committed between 1 August 2002 and 26 June 2007.

When the child’s fingers were produced, one juror burst into tears while the judge immediately adjourned the case for the rest of the day.

Reporting of the incident, which happened during the trial, was only lifted once the guilty verdict was returned.

Police were called to the court and took a statement from the Nigerian-born defendant.

Social Services and the Child Protection Agency were also contacted.

Although it is understood one of her children had lost part of her hand after suffering renal problems and developing gangrene, DNA test results are now awaited to determine who the body parts belonged to.

Fakorede was convicted of one count of fraud totalling £925,933, while one of her daughters, 21-year-old Denise Shofolawe-Coker, was found guilty of laundering £70,000 of the stolen money.

Remanding them in custody and adjourning the case until 8 September for pre-sentence reports, Judge Jacqueline Beech warned the pair they faced “inevitable” imprisonment for their “breathtaking” dishonesty.

Lifting the reporting ban on the earlier “fingers” incident, the judge said it must have been “unpleasant” for the jury, and added: “I have never experienced anything as horrific as this.”

The court heard Fakorede, who holds joint Nigerian and British citizenship, invented 20 aliases to make 39 false tax credit claims over a five-year period.

She was found out when she then tried to claim childcare as well.

Fakorede blamed the fraud on unknown “forces of darkness”, who she said had placed a “voodoo” curse on her family.

She then produced the fingers as evidence, saying the magic was so strong it caused one of her children to lose them.

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