Read Time:3 Minute, 56 Second

  • Thierry Tilly is accused of  defrauding 11 members of theVédrines  family
  • He allegedly told them  they were in mortal danger and he’d protect them
  • Tilly denies persuading victims to part with property,  savings and jewellery

By Leon Watson

PUBLISHED:04:24 EST, 25  September 2012| UPDATED:04:53 EST, 25 September 2012



A guru has gone on trial in France accused  of keeping three generations of an  aristocratic family under his ‘mental spell’ and  defrauding them of their £3.6million fortune.

Thierry Tilly is said to have persuaded the  Védrines family that he was a Nato ‘master spy’, a confidante of presidents, a  financial genius, and the representative of an ancient order which fights the  forces of evil.

The 48-year-old, from Oxford, is accused  ofusing brainwashing techniques and violence to convince them that they were in mortal danger from a cabal of freemasons, a European secret society and  paedophiles.

Thierry Tilly, 48, is on trial in France accused of keeping three generations of an aristocratic family under his 'mental spell' Thierry Tilly, 48, is on trial in France accused of  keeping three generations of an aristocratic family under his ‘mental spell’

Prosecutors have called Tilly, who told 11  members of the family that he could protect them, the ‘Leonardo da Vinci of  mental manipulation’.

If convicted, Mr Tilly could face a 10-year  prison term and €750,000 (£600,000) fine. Jacques Gonzalez, 65, his alleged  accomplice, could face a five-year sentence.

The court in Bordeaux heard that Mr Tilly  used his ‘superior intelligence’ to ingratiate himself with the  family.

His alleged victims included Guillemette de  Védrines, who died in 2010 aged 97, her three children Philippe, Ghislaine and  Charles-Henri, the two brothers’ wives, Brigitte and Christine, and five adult  grandchildren.

It is alleged Mr Tilly’s first victim was  Ghislaine de Védrines, 66, whom he met as an employee of her Paris secretarial  college in 1999

After barely registering the ‘uncharismatic’  man for the first year, she gradually found herself drawn to him, and introduced  him to relations.

Outside court: Jean Marchand (leff), his wife Ghislaine and his son Francois (back centre), are alleged victims of the Outside court: Jean Marchand (leff), his wife Ghislaine  and his son Francois (back centre), are alleged victims of the “guru” Thierry  Tilly

The family claims he brainwashed them into  believing they were the lost descendants of an ancient society called ‘The  Balance of the World’, and locked themselves into the family chateau in  Monflanquin 100 miles east of Bordeaux. For five years, they barely left the  castle, terrified they would be killed.

Mr Tilly allegedly claimed they were  protected by a global network of secretive grandees, whose head, Mr Gonzalez,  was a cousin of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

They were allegedly persuaded to part with  property, savings and jewellery worth €4.5million (£3.6million), which were  funnelled into a Canadian ‘charity’ that Mr Tilly claimed was set up to pay  their ‘protectors’.

‘He kidnapped us by … turning us against one  another.’

Ghislaine Marchand

As scrutiny intensified in France, Mr Tilly  allegedly convinced most of the family to decamp to Oxford, where they often  failed to pay rent and were taken to court.

Anyone who resisted was allegedly punished  severely. Christine de Védrines, 62, says she was locked in a room for several  months, deprived of food and beaten.

She says he insisted she knew the number of a  bank account that would lead to the lost treasure of the Knights  Templar.

When Ghislaine’s husband, Jean Marchand, a  journalist, denounced Mr Tilly as a charlatan, his wife and two children branded  him an ‘agent of evil’. Mr Marchand alerted the authorities who refused to act  because there were no legal complaints from the rest of the family.

Mr Tilly was finally arrested in Switzerland  in 2009 following a complaint by Christine, who escaped after confiding in her  employer in Oxford.

When Mr Gonzalez was arrested in 2010, police  found a BMW 645 with €86,000 in the boot, as well as expensive watches, bottles  of fine wine and an ‘opulent wardrobe’.

On the first day of a trial which is expected  to last two weeks, Mr  Tilly appeared smiling, wearing a black polo-neck jumper  and glasses.

Mr Tilly told the court he was a descendant  of the Habsburgs and once almost played football for Marseille.

He denies the charge of ‘sequestering with  the aim of committing an offence, voluntary violence with premeditation against  a vulnerable person and abuse of weakness of a person under psychological  submission’.

Mr Gonzalez denies complicity in the charges.  The trial continues.

Outside the court, Mrs Marchand said that he was a ‘liar and  con-man’.  ‘He kidnapped us by … turning us against one another,’ she  said

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Average Rating

5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star