11/02/2013 Inside Out South


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In Hello from Oxford and welcome to Inside Out. Why are we here? All


will be revealed. We were completely manipulated. Tonight: We


are telling the extraordinary story of a conman who brainwashed a


French aristocratic family and held them captive in Oxford. He told us


that we are to be killed. We go undercover in Dorset to find out


who has the right staff are mud. is over-exploitation. It is too


many people taking too many worms. Battle of Britain hero with his


family. This is inside, for the -- inside out, for the South of


First to Nidal we are hearing Oxford with a story which sounds


like it could be from an episode of Inspector Morse. An aristocratic


French family conned out of their fortune and brought to this city to


work virtually as slaves. But this extraordinary story is not a work


of fiction. Thierry Tilly was a man so


controlling he was dubbed the Leonardo da Vinci of mental


manipulation. Over 10 years, he brainwashed three generations of


our noble French family, conning them out of millions of pounds.


TRANSLATION: I compare it to a spider. He will sting you to


anaesthetise you and once he has done you, he will wrap you up. Then


he sucks the blood out of you. He took all the family's it's money


and have persuaded them to be moved to Oxford to work for him,


punishing them if they resisted. TRANSLATION: It was completely


unreal. We were hallucinating. We were locked in the house and only


the children had the right to go out to work. We were country be


manipulated to. Our mind was gone. He told us that we could be killed.


The story be gins in Monflanquin, a thirteenth-century billet in the


south-west of France. One of the most impressive properties around


his Chateau Martel. For hundreds of years, it was owned by the same


family, the De Vedrines. The De Vedrines enjoyed the aristocratic


lifestyle. They would all get together here at weekends for big


parties. But about 10 years ago, the family changed and became more


reclusive. They spent days, sometimes weeks, inside, too scared


to go up. That is because Thierry Tilly was calling the shots. He


infiltrated the family, convincing them he was a well-connected,


powerful man who wanted to help them. The lawyer who eventually


brought Tilly to court says he used complicated brainwashing techniques


to gain control of the family. TRANSLATION: And at the castle,


there were no timepieces. They were obliged to spend three days in the


dark to lose their sense of time. He would isolate members of the


family. They were not allowed to talk to each other. And with his


hypnotic powers, he managed to partition people off and set them


against each other. So, how did Tilly gain so much influence? I


have come to this apartment block in Bordeaux to meet the husband-


and-wife at the heart of this story. The flat belongs to a friend


because Christine and Charles-Henri De Vedrine say they are too


embarrassed to show us the social housing where they now live. They


told me at first, Tilly seem to have the family's interests at


heart. TRANSLATION: Tilly said he would look after our home,


investments and trusts. We just wanted to protect them. We used


professionals but he made us believe him better than them. He


knew a lot of things about us and my family was convinced by him.


People do have family members in one by one, including Christine and


Charles-Henri's son. -- he pulled the family members in. He was very


nice. I thought everything he was telling us had an importance. It


became everything, actually. At one time, I told him that I hope to he


could be in my mind to help me when I had to make decisions. He told me,


please do not say that out loud because people will not understand.


I understand what you are saying but you cannot say that about low.


He knew how to adapt himself to each individual. He spoke


differently to the 60-year-old girl and the 20-year-old boy band to the


grandmother. He spoke to people in their own language and used it to


trap them. His controlled was now so powerful he convinced the family


they were under threat. He said people wanted them dead and they


must escape and sell their chateaux. TRANSLATION: He said, you must


absolutely sell it. You cannot keep it because it is too dangerous for


the family. He sold everything, knowing it was our roots. He


succeeded. The family owned properties all around South West


France. Tilly got control of all of it. This is one of seven properties


that he sold. In total, he conned the family out of 5 million euros.


It is money they have not seen since. As the French authorities


grew suspicious of Tilly, he took radical action by moving to Oxford.


He persuaded the family to follow him. At the time, they lived in


rented houses, including this one, working as gardeners, cooks and


cleaners. Their wages were handed over. Thornton came up with a


bizarre arrangement where he controlled the family's money, who


they could see and even what food they could eat. If he was not with


them, he would be badgering them on the phone asking who they were with.


They were accountable 24 hours a day. All my money, I gave it to him.


I did not have any fantasies. I could not even by a chocolate bar


because the money would be pretty much a theft from the family and


the whole thing. So I did not go to the cinema. We could not have


friends. I did not have a girlfriend. So we were really into


our own world. Tilly's Hall was so strong the family, when not a work,


were virtually UN -- under house arrest. I stayed so the months in


my bedroom. -- seven months. I did not take my meals with the rest of


the family. I stayed there for several months. TRANSLATION: For a


fortnight, we did not sleep. We only had biscuits and bread to eat


and tea to drink. It was really hard. When we came out of there,


Christine was in an appalling state. Swelling on her lower legs. She had


to learn to walk again. She was so badly affected. In Oxford, I lost


my spirit. It was the first time I thought of suicide. I must admit, I


thought of that in Oxford. Christine struggled with her own


state of mind, she tried to stay strong for the rest of the family.


She was the rebellious one who crest and -- questioned Tilly and


his motives. She was working at this deli in Oxford. When her boss


met Tilly, he saw him for what he was. Immediately, I sensed this


chap was not right. Drip-dry shirt, cheap Thai, Noci, cheap shoes. I


thought he was not a big financier but this did that. Already


suspicious of Tilly, Christine would become the first family


member to break free. She asked what I thought of Mr Tilly and I


said, "I think he is either end not all a crook." she looked at me and


it was like there was a click in her brain. She started telling me


her story. I could not believe what I was listening to. I told her she


had to get out of here because the people were dangerous. I feared for


her life. Asked if there was anybody we could phone. She said


there was her cousin. They found that cozen and arranged for her to


come and take Christine back to France but all of this was kept


secret from her husband, who was still under up Tilly's spell.


asked if she had her passport. said yes. I said that when she went


home that night with her husband, she must make absolutely no


movements that would make them suspect that something had happened.


The next morning, my driver was waiting. I had primed him. She went


to work, her husband walked off. She ran into the car, went to


London and then the cousin and best friend were waiting for her and she


was smuggled back to Paris. She rang me in the afternoon and said


she was safe. Thought Thierry Tilly, it was the beginning of the end.


Christine went to the authorities and it in 2009, he was arrested and


went on trial in Bordeaux. Last year, France finally learned how,


for 10 years, Tilly had this noble family at his mercy. Thornton was


convicted of a number of offences, including abusing people weakened


by psychological subjection. In other words, brainwashing.


Prosecutors called him a liar and a fantasist. The judge spoke of


mental trickery before jailing him for eight years. With Tilly finally


shut away, the De Vedrines are now hoping to rebuild their lives.


TRANSLATION: I am angry with Tilly because of what he did to my wife


and children. He stole 10 years of our lives but he did more than that.


He destroyed everything on the way. Now, a actually, we are completely


ruined. We have no house, no money, no furniture, no nothing. I feel


very guilty for my children because I did not protect them. For 10


years, I lived in a perceived reality and actually, it was alive.


It took something from me that I can't have a grasp of. It is


difficult to live with that. TRANSLATION: And I am speaking out


now because the main thing to understand is that even if we had


not been very intelligent, it can happen to others.


Jeremy stern reporting. Do not forget, if you have a story for us,


drop me an e-mail. Next, from Oxford down to the coast and pool,


where digging for bait has opened a It may look like a nerd, but sites


like this are important feeding grounds for birds. Many sites are


protected like Holes Bay in Dorset. Conservationists say this world is


being trampled underfoot. This is what everyone is after. Big,


fat, juicy ones for fishing. The problem is, it is the scale of the


digging. Causing conflict not only with the local people, but also


with the wildlife. So concerned were natural England


about the effect on birdlife here that they took steps to ban


commercial diggers in order to protect the feeding sites of my


great tree and wading birds. They put up signs to make the ban clear


to anyone in the area. Poole Harbour commissioners say they have


never given anyone permission to dig commercially here. We


discovered that gangs were travelling from Portsmouth to dig


up rag worms that by weight are worth more than the finest rump


steak. It seems no one is doing anything about it.


This murder is an internationally valuable resource. Two birds, this


is gold and they come from all over the northern hemisphere to exploit


it. This is their patch, they know this place as much as we know our


local park or the neighbourhood where we grew up. The reason they


come back is because they know there is food. If they arrive and


there are blokes digging for food, they can't use the resource. The


argument might be, they just move down the shore and go elsewhere,


but it's not that simple. They need to come to patches they know where


3D is and if they can't, we are in trouble.


These guys aren't even following Poole Harbour's code of conduct


drawn up for people looking for a couple of worms for personal use.


The commercial diggers are leaving their trenches. Where they don't


fill them in, it means invertebrates will struggle to re-


establish themselves. Dorset Wildlife Trust told us it


can take two to 10 weeks to recover. That is an age to wait if you are a


hungry bird. Are these figures definitely part of a commercial


operation? Once they come off the mud, we filmed this group


Another day, another Dick. This time about a dozen men of spread


out. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. At least some of them have come


from Portsmouth as their van parked at the side shows. A long way to


come for bait for personal use. The next day, the diggers are back. I


take a closer look at the men sorting debate. I saw the men


working together and sorting a It wasn't hard to trace the bait


back to the shop in Portsmouth which doesn't have permission to


dig commercially at Holes Bay. Natural England has tried to


control the levels of bait digging by drawing up an agreement between


the shop and other commercial outfits, but they simply refuse to


sign it, saying it was too restrictive.


The owner of the shop told us that since the signs banning commercial


digging arrived, he stopped going to Holes Bay. Even when he did, he


claimed it was only him and one or two others. And he always followed


the code of conduct. All the time I have back filled my


holes and I take only what I need. One way started in Holes Bay, there


was not as much ragworm as there is now. There is more population than


before. If what about disturbing wildlife


and birds? The birds are still next to me when


I'm digging. I don't scare them away. The swans come and see me. We


are not actually disturbing them. We turn the ground over so it gives


them some food as well. Once we leave where we are, or birds of


their fees -- feeding. Some diggers say they are confused


about what they can and can't do. It is an activity that has gone on


for decades and many believe that any ban is illegal.


I sell baked to a shop. When he orders it I come down and get it.


There is a sign saying no commercial bait digging and yet you


are doing that. There were a few up here last year and we were told


that they were illegally put up. The signs are illegal? Yes. They


can't stop you bait digging here. I thought you were allowed to dig


anywhere. If natural England appear to be


equally confused about the issue having put up the signs, they are


doing nothing to enforce them. A what is the point in putting


signs appeared no one does anything. There is a warning and it is known


to people and make them aware. It is a first step before we have


started trying to get voluntary agreements.


If there are no problems, take the signs down, if there are problems,


surely and force them. It is complex and Dan-Air people


emotively look at it and think it is messy. When you actually look at


research, in terms of when it is done at a low level, the impact has


been found relatively minimum. Meanwhile, the southern inshore


fisheries conservation authority has taken responsibility for


finding a lasting solution. They are conducting a five-year study in


the hope of proving whether bait digging means but are losing out as


conservationists believe. It is over exploitation. Too many


people taking too many ones. There is nothing wrong with harvesting as


long as it is sustainable. Kenya here that? That poor bird has come


from other will wind up -- wind- blown environments and all it wants


is a were am. We just have to be a lot more consider it.


We don't had any birds down there. There are no dead birds, no birds


have moved out of the area, none at all. Swans nest in the middle and


we give them a wide berth. If you live with nature, they don't think


here is the bait digger and run. We live with them.


I would love to hear your thoughts on that story. You can tweet me.


Finally tonight, the Battle of Britain, Churchill's view, those


brave heroes who fought to defend our country. One former newsreader


Jan Leeming agreed to sponsor and name on the Battle of Britain


Memorial, she had no idea of the I wasn't even born when the Battle


of Britain raged over Kent. I can only imagine the sounds of battle


and the vapour trails of aircraft as criss-crossing the sky as an


ever-shrinking band of young pilots defended this country from invasion


against overwhelming odds. Never in the field of human


conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.


The closest I have ever come to committing an act of bravery was


backing 2006 in Australia with a bunch of celebrities. It was


terrifying, but I can't claim to know anything of the terror of


those pilot must have experienced. On my return from the jungle, I


sponsored her name on the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-Le-Ferne.


I was intrigued by the foreign names listed here, especially the


French pilots. There are 13 French names on this


wall of remembrance. Because of my French ancestry I asked to sponsor


a French pilot and the name I was given was that of Rene Mouchotte.


They soon as I started to research the name Rene Mouchotte, I


discovered he kept diaries which were published after the war and I


found him in an old newsreel from 1943.


This was Rene enjoying his own brief taste of celebrity as one of


two pilots who share the credit for shooting down Biggin Hill 1000


enemy plane. Well, boys, what about Per 1000 shot down plane was such a


big deal at Biggin Hill that many MN had refused to take leave so


they could be around to see it. As Andy Simpson told me, this bumped


up the sweepstakes prize money to a side -- tidy sum.


The winner of the sweepstake was going to get �150, which was


substantial at the time. And the pilot who got the thousandth was


going to get 300. What happened was the two pilots shared it.


Rene shed his prize money with his crew. They all got a chance to


celebrate attitude party at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.


A rare opportunity to enjoy some rest and relaxation away from the


war. When the end of the evening came,


taxi drivers appeared to offer their services for those coming


home, any distance and for nothing. In his three years of action with


the RAF, Rene completed more than 188 flights. He flew from all over


the country, but is best remembered at Biggin Hill where he became the


first Frenchman to leave -- lead an RAF squadron. He even had a local


street named after him where servicemen from all the forces


still live today. Including Lieutenant Colonel Sebastian


Pollington. We all know of the significance of


Mouchotte and other famous m men who have roads here. Mouchotte, in


particular, because it is the biggest road. The significance of


him is not lost on residence. There is a book that goes around and


everybody reads it, signs it and passes it on.


The book is a collection of Rene's war diaries. Much more than just a


description of missions. These are personal notes about fear, fatigue,


blackouts in the air, anger at bureaucracy and what it feels like


to see your friends die in battle. We had been flying for over an hour


when I suddenly saw her fatal white cloud which indicates engine


failure. As remade for the coast, I advised him to bail out. My poor


Charles, he fell in head first. When they survived the Battle of


Britain and other adventures, but almost inevitably, his time came on


27th August, 1943. Paris was Rene's home town. I


wanted to know more about his life before the war and to see if any of


his relatives had survived. Renee came from a well-to-do family, he


was born here almost a century ago in the summer of 1914. The


Mouchotte's family ran a successful business and Rene grew up in a


grand villa. Today it is an apartment building with no trace of


his family any more. My only option was to leave and let at the Pere


Lachaise cemetery in the hope that someone with a connection to Renee


would find it. Incredibly, four months later, the


note was found by Rene's sister, Jacqueline who instructed her son-


in-law, Hubert De Lisle, to contact My mother in law found the letter


in late October when she naturally, every year, went to put flowers on


the tomb. She called me and she said, there is a letter in French


and English. Somebody wants to make a recording, photographs on the


life of Rene Mouchotte. She was reticent at first until I


discovered it was you, Jan Leeming. I'm your e-mail I managed to


contact you and that was it. Jacqueline agreed to see me and we


met on her hundred and first birthday. We looked at photos of


her with Rene when they were children and news footage from the


war, 40 she had never seen before. She had fond memories of him as a


boy he was always kind and smiling. With tears in her eyes, she said it


was wonderful to see her brother as she remembered him 72 years ago


when he set off for war. Although Rene is remembered and honoured in


France, I was astonished to discover that the Mouchotte family


had never received his medals. That was something I could put right.


I contacted the allied air forces Museum and with their help was able


to go back to Paris last summer and finally present Jacqueline and her


family with her brothers Battle of She was not in good health at the


time, but delighted to receive them. She died just three weeks later.


Jacqueline was buried here at Pere Lachaise in the family tomb where


Rene's body was laid to rest six years after his death. My search


for Renee and his family has taken up much of my life since 2007, but


with the help of a great many people, I have finally been able to


complete his story. So, my journey ended where it began


and after five years of searching, Rene Mouchotte is no longer just a


name engraved on a wall. What an incredible character. Jan


Leeming reporting. That is it for now, more next time. Until then,


goodbye. Next time on Inside Out, the Dorset


man banged up in Hungary but without being charged. Just how


justice the justice system abroad? I believed I was going to spend


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