Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:17 UK

'Voodoo-cursed' woman is jailed

Remi Fakorede
Fakorede claimed she was the victim of a voodoo curse

A woman who produced human fingers in court in a bid to explain her involvement in a 925,000 tax credit fraud has been jailed for five years.

Remi Fakorede, 46, from Hackney, east London, told Snaresbrook Crown Court, she had been forced into crime by a voodoo curse on her and her family.

Fakorede claimed the same voodoo curse caused the fingers belonging to one of her six children to fall off.

She was convicted of one count of fraud between 1 August 2002 and 26 June 2007.

This was a sophisticated fraud... which resulted in the Inland Revenue being defrauded to the tune of nearly 1m
Judge Jacqueline Beech

Her daughter, Denise Shofolawe-Cokerenise, 21, also from Hackney, was jailed for 12 months at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Thursday after being found guilty of laundering 70,000 of the stolen money.

Judge Jacqueline Beech said the 46-year-old Nigerian-born defendant's behaviour was "utterly disgraceful" and a "cynical attempt to manipulate the jury".

DNA test results have since been ordered to determine who the body parts belonged to, although it is understood the defendant's three-year-old daughter had lost part of her hand after suffering renal problems and developing gangrene.

Social Services and the Child Protection Agency were also contacted following the incident in court.

Passing sentence the judge, who said the fingers incident was the most "horrific" she had experienced, told Fakorede she had been responsible for a "wholesale assault on the benefit system".

Disabled twins

Rejecting a defence plea for a suspended sentence, she told the defendant from the moment the tax credit benefit was introduced she was "involved in fraudulent claims".

She hid both her 40,000-a-year salary and her partner's existence to fool the authorities.

The judge said: "If that were not bad enough you also became involved with others in making other false claims."

"This was a sophisticated fraud... which resulted in the Inland Revenue being defrauded to the tune of nearly 1m. I am satisfied that you were either the lynchpin in this fraud or, at least, one of the main conspirators."

Jurors heard Fakorede used combinations of her names to create 20 phantom families with children - often disabled twins - to make 39 false tax credit claims.

Stolen national insurance numbers were also used.

A confiscation hearing is due to be held at a later date.


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