How +quot;Satanist+quot; conman persuaded vicar to net him over 200,000 By Paul Vallely, T

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How "Satanist" conman persuaded vicar to net him over 200,000 By Paul Vallely, The Times Newspaper, April 1986. Whether Derry Mainwaring Knight was a Satanist or a conman, or both, never seemed the question at the centre of the trial which ended yesterday at Maidstone Crown Court. The real puzzle was always the seeming nonchalance with which a group of aristocrats and wealthy country folk were prepared to hand over more than 200,000. The first suggestion was that some masonic intrigue was involved. The notion was prompted by an unprecedented statement by the judge before the trial began, in which he warned potential jurors that anyone connected with Freemasonry would be excused service as the case might prove embarrassing for them. This proved to be a red herring. Masonry had links to a particular group of which it had been claimed Knight was a member but, faced with the expert testimony on the cult, he chose not to repeat the claim in court. But the true answer proved no less intriguing. ================= An Atmosphere of religious fervour ================= The decisions to donate such large amounts were taken by the principle donors in an atmosphere of religious fervour in which they felt themselves to be in receipt of direct messages from God in the form of pictures, signs, voices, providential coincidences and a divine warning to distrust the senior investigating policeman as "a man with five faces". Into this crucible was thrown the final ingredient. In a circle which already included God, the Devil, a brace of viscounts, an earl, the wife of an MP and a former High Sheriff of East Sussex, it somehow did not seem too fanciful to be told that the head of the counter-church they were setting out to smash was Lord Whitelaw, the deputy Prime Minister. Derry Mainwaring Knight was giving out religious leaflets door to door in the village of Newick, East Sussex, when he met the rector, the Rev John Baker. WIthin three months the ex-convict had told the rector the story of his life, beginning with his grandmothers involvement in the black arts and ending shortly after he was "born again" when God spoke to him as he sat on the roof of Hull Prison during a demonstration. Knight had been serving a sentence for rape. By February 1984 Knight had moved into the rectory to live in the attic. By the following month Mr Baker had raised 24,925 from local Christians to pay off what Knight claimed were debts to unspecified moneylenders. In fact a good deal of the money was ultimately spent on his girl friend, Angela Murdoch, and on entertaining girls including Samantha Sprackling, a dancer, and Julie Tremain, a prostitute. Within 48 hours Knight fell into a trance in which he informed the rector that he had been dedicated to Lucifer at the age of eight and that he held high office in a Satanist order based in Essex. Within six weeks, by May 21, Mr Baker had raised a further 18,900, which he paid in cash to Knight, who said he needed it to repay Satanic debts as a prelude to leaving the order. When that source showed signs of drying up, Knight made the sudden disclosure that he was bound to Satanism by certain items of regalia which he had to purchase and them destroy. Within three months the rector had handed over 12,435 more. In September 1984, Knight announced that further artifacts existed which enabled him to be controlled from afar through two platinum discs inserted in his forehead by a Satanist surgeon. By October 22 Mr Baker had given Knight another 34,750 in used 50 notes. By November the rector had begun a fifth series of payments for a different set of regalia. By February 15, 1985 the rector had donated 98,500 in used 50 and 20 notes. By May 10 a further 25,600 had changed hands to repay a new Satanic debt. Mr Baker had approached wealthy local people who were mostly sympathetic to his own evangelical approach to religion. One such was Mrs Susan Sainsbury, the wife of Mr Timothy Sainsbury, Conservative MP or Hove, and a millionaire member of the supermarket family. She had been "born again" in 1975. Over a period she gave him 79,895. Mr Michael Warren, a farmer, magistrate and former High Sheriff, another evangelical Christian gave 36,000. Lord Hampden, a "committed Christian" paid 39,250. Mr Gorden Scutt, a company director and officer of a Christian trust, gave 25,000. Other donors included Lord and Lady Brentford and Lord March. It was then that Dr Eric Kemp, Bishop of Chichester, became concerned. He met Knight and asked a number of Anglican specialists in the occult and Satanism to intervene. Most of the experts were unconvinced. Several questioned Knights sincerity. Even those who did not throw doubt upon Knights claims expressed disquiet about whether the best way to save someone from Satan involved the payment of large amounts of 50 notes for artefacts and regalia. The reservations of the experts persuaded tow other members of the aristocracy, Lord and Lady Ingeby, not to make a donation. But with the exception of Lord March, those who had by now contributed heavily decided to carry on. Towards the end of 1984 they formed a donors group. The Bishop of Chichester asked the Rt Rev Mark Green, the retired Bishop of Aston, to attend one meeting early in 1985 and report back. Bishop Green clearly found the tone unchanged, and if anything heightened, at the meeting to which two experts on exorcism had been invited. ================= Special Messages Came from God ================= At the next meeting the rector produced a detailed reply to the arguments of the exorcists. His wife, Alison, added a lengthy memorandum on why the operation should continue. Bishop Green sent the documents to Dr Kemp who contacted the police. On March 13, Knight was arrested and questioned for two days about the payments. Soon after he was released on bail he got the rector to persuade Lord Hampden, to buy a 37,000 Rolls Royce for Knight's use to maintain his status in Satanist circles. On May 23, shortly before a further 200,000 was to be handed over for the purchase of a Satanic throne, Knight was arrested, charge with theft and remanded. When court officials came to list the initial hearing before the local magistrates they had to send to London for a stipendiary. The chairman of the East Sussex Magistrates Association was Mr Michael Warren, the former High Sheriff who had himself donated 36,000.

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