Be da hokey …Brings new meaning to the term loose cannon…
Was the child playing Hungry Hungry Hippos?
This could go in a number of a places
The strange tale of Carrie Jade Williams. The internationally acclaimed writer with a terminal illness who never existed
British conwoman Samantha Cookes took in everyone from the ‘Financial Times’ and the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK to parents of children with special needs in Ireland
British conwoman Samantha Cookes, aka Carrie Jade Williams
January 01 2023 02:30 AM
She was a Kerry-based writer amassing international acclaim for her work despite a terminal illness that caused memory loss so severe she could not remember the previous day. Now prominent charities, publishers, scientific organisations and news sites are scrambling to eradicate their online endorsements of an English lady who has been revealed to be a serial con woman.
‘Carrie Jade Williams’ amassed a litany of Irish literary support awards and an army of TikTok and Instagram supporters for her writing and campaigning on disability issues, where she talked about her terminal diagnosis of Huntington’s disease, a degenerative brain condition.
The Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, the charity which has an income of £116.5m (€131.4m) a year, named her as one of its four innovator partners where she could claim up to £100,000 to develop an “integrated memory prompt and communication” app.
Winning the 2020 Financial Times/Bodley Head award for her essay about using assistive technology to write brought the Kenmare-based author a £1,000 prize and the kudos of having her essay e-published by Penguin, complete with an author’s profile on the Penguin website.
The essay was also published on FT.com. It was a remarkable achievement for the English writer who spoke in interviews about not caring about getting rejection letters from publishers as she “forgot about them” within 24 hours due to her genetic disease.
Williams’s writing star continued to rise as she won an Irish Writing Centre residency in Cill Rialaig in Kerry in 2020. The Dublin International Screenwriting Festival awarded her a place on its “Writers Meet Producers” event in 2021 and she secured a writer-in-residency position in St John’s Theatre in Listowel at the beginning of 2022.
In one podcast interview she boasted of having written a novel from the shower using her assistive technology. She told Radio Kerry she had done a screenplay deal with Netflix and had a novel on the way but could not discuss it because of a non-disclosure agreement. When contacted, Netflix said they have no record of any deal with Carrie Jade Williams. She also spoke about being engaged to a Kerry man and how she was previously a chemical engineer.
However, everything came crashing down for the writer after she made a series of TikTok videos that went viral last July. Williams claimed guests who stayed in her Kenmare home through Airbnb were threatening to sue her for €450,000 after they became upset by seeing her disability aids in her home and questioning if they could “catch” her disease.
The story was picked up by The Independent newspaper and websites in the UK who quoted disability charities calling on Airbnb to take a firmer stance on “ableist abuse” by guests.
An Airbnb source said the company investigated and found no evidence to support the claims made by Williams.
As the strange story gained prominence online, in October a poster on Reddit said Williams’s real name was actually Samantha Cookes. The post linked to news reports showing Cookes had been convicted in a Middlesborough court in 2011 of a “cruel and sophisticated” defrauding of a childless couple of £1,200 by pretending to be the surrogate mother of their baby. She was given a suspended sentence because of her “complex psychological and emotional background”.
Her defence barrister said she had been plagued by psychiatric problems since 2008 when she lost her baby to sudden infant death.
A 2013 report from the Shropshire Star showed West Mercia Police appealing for information about Cookes’s whereabouts after she was reported missing.
The police said she was last sighted in Clane, Co Kildare. After these reports were circulated in October, all social media accounts associated with ‘Carrie Jade Williams’ were taken down. Belatedly Cookes posted a statement on her website, which is no longer live, claiming the stories were about her “sister” and it was “defamatory” to suggest “I am she”.
“I was not aware of the full history of my sister’s mental health difficulties, though we support and love her,” the statement said. “She has moved her life onwards and not had any legal trouble in nearly a decade.”
A number of people who knew Cookes under a variety of aliases since she moved to Ireland spoke to Vice.com for an article published last month that confirmed Cookes and Carrie Jade Williams were the same person.
Yesterday the Irish Independent showed how Cookes took money from the parents of children with special needs for trips to Lapland that never happened. The Sunday Independent can now reveal that, while in Ireland, gardaí first began investigating Cookes for the alleged non-payment of an accommodation bill in Tullamore in 2014.
- The serial fraudster, a bogus therapist and the trip to Lapland for vulnerable children that was never going to happen
Cookes presented herself as Lucy Fitzwilliam while living in Glenageary, south Dublin, in 2016. There she was introduced to Hillary Geelon, a worker with St John of Gods, as a former missionary with an evangelical church who had returned from Africa or the Middle East and was now working with a women’s refuge centre and evangelical church in Dún Laoghaire.
Ms Geelon said ‘Fitzwilliam’, who she now knows was Cookes, had “a well-spoken English accent”.
“It’s important to emphasise that she has that accent,” said Ms Geelon. “Why would someone with an accent like that con you? That may be an in-built prejudice I have but you never expect someone so well spoken to be a fraud. She would quote her favourite Psalm from the Bible and I just accepted that was who she was.”
Ms Geelon at the time was on a waiting list to have her four-year old son Rhys evaluated for autism. A friend advised her that ‘Fitzwilliam’ was a qualified occupational therapist and she paid her €100 to evaluate her son. “She told me she was basically a millionairess as she came from the family that owned the 3M company,” said Ms Geelon.
She was unimpressed with the woman’s approach to assessing and providing therapy for her child. When indoor play therapy failed to engage Rhys she remembered Cookes “walking around our estate like an airy-fairy lunatic following my son on his scooter”.
Cookes told her she was organising a trip for children with special needs and their families to go to Lapland for Christmas. Ms Geelon said she regrets introducing Cookes to a number of families who would later make complaints to gardaí that Cookes had stolen their money.
One day Cookes rang Ms Geelon in a panic to say she had been admitted to St Vincent’s hospital after collapsing in Easons in Dún Laoghaire. When Ms Geelon attended the hospital she was confused the receptionist could find no admission record for a Lucy Fitzwilliam.
When she described what happened she was told ‘Samantha’ was in cubicle three. Cookes brushed off the issue and urgently demanded Ms Geelon take her out of the hospital. She then spent the night in Ms Geelon’s home.
Ms Geelon checked on her several times during the night and was surprised to find her repeatedly looking out her bedroom window. Now, Ms Geelon is convinced Cookes was concerned she was about to be arrested after her real name was used in the hospital admission. Fitzwilliam soon disappeared from the Wicklow and south Dublin circle of friends who had known her as a therapist and former missionary.
Ms Geelon is relieved she left before a friend who had raised some €20,000 to support the Lapland trip handed over the cheque, but others had already paid deposits.
“There are people who are devastated from the breach of trust,” said Ms Geelon. “She has made people feel so insecure in their homes as she was in with their children. She was so charming and sweet she just sucked people in.
“Whatever problem you told her about she would convince you she was an expert on it and she could help. I’ve no doubt it was all 100pc calculated and she was already planning her next con as she worked with people.”
After leaving Dublin it appears Cookes next set up in Glanmire, Co Cork, where Julie Lee, a taxi driver, regularly drove her from her accommodation to her assignments as an occupational therapist in 2017. In Cork, Cookes was now ‘Rebecca Fitzpatrick’, who had returned from the Middle East after making a lot of money.
Ms Lee said she was believable at first but then she got a vibe that “it was a load of BS”. Cookes talked about training and hiring Lee as a therapist to work alongside her and spoke about employing her on a trip to Lapland for children with special needs.
Cookes, Ms Lee said, would often have no cash to pay her but after finishing her assessments of children in people’s homes she would come out with hundreds of euro in cash and pay her taxi fare. Ms Lee discovered Cookes was working as an au pair for the woman she lived with and decided to report Cookes to the gardaí as she believed she was deceiving people by claiming to be a qualified therapist.
She was also concerned Cookes seemed to be working in some schools and community centres. ‘Fitzpatrick’ disappeared from Cork shortly after Ms Lee reported her to gardaí. The taxi driver said she has “no doubt” the woman she knew as Rebecca Fitzpatrick is also Carrie Jade Williams and Cookes and points to the distinctive moles on her neck.
In 2019 gardaí caught up with Cookes. She was convicted of deceiving a man in Cork between March and June 2017 into paying €840 to supply a report as a qualified child psychologist to help his daughter obtain a special needs assistant at school.
The court also took into consideration offences that Cookes had committed in Dublin and Wicklow in 2016 that included stealing €100 from Ms Geelon and €400 from Ms Geelon’s neighbour.
Two other offences included stealing €300 from Lynn McDonald, the mother of a severely disabled child in Tallaght who has a prominent Facebook page for her daughter Daisy, and stealing €600 from a woman in Arklow.
Ms Geelon only learned of this prosecution through this newspaper this weekend. Cookes was sentenced to 14 weeks and two days in prison for the offences in May 2019 in Fermoy District Court but the sentence was suspended.
Her next big move was to become Carrie Jade Williams, the writer with Huntington’s disease who has fled Kenmare since she was identified as Samantha Cookes.
This weekend the Alzheimer’s Society of the UK said it could not reveal how much it had paid Cookes, who registered a company, Start Voice Control, in Belfast last year using the name Carrie Jade Williams.
“All applicants sign a legal agreement with Alzheimer’s Society which requires them to provide information and deliver on their innovations at agreed points through the partnership. Failure to do so can result in termination of the agreement, which has been the case for Start Voice Control,” it said. The Financial Times said it had withdrawn the 2020 prize.
In the last month Carrie Jade Williams’s profile, writings and interviews that had been hosted on the Alzheimer’s Society website, Newstalk, the Financial Times, Penguin and the prestigious Wellcome health science site have been deleted since news of her fraudulent past emerged.
An American author who helped ‘Carrie’ in an online writing class was shocked to hear of her real identity last week. She told the Sunday Independent that Cookes told her she planned to move to America in 2022 to receive “experimental brain surgery” designed by Elon Musk, the Twitter and Tesla boss, who has invested in brain implant technology with his Neuralink company. Another in a long list of tall tales from Cookes.
Tighe has just ripped off vice.com’s expose on this wan. He practically reproduces the vice article from a month or two back and a cursory mention of it is buried in the middle of his piece. Shocking stuff from the man that ruined Irish football by leading a cabal of gimps to oust John Delaney.
Not that weird, but
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