A FRENCH conman dubbed the "Leonardo da Vinci of mental manipulation" has been jailed for brainwashing a family of aristocrats and defrauding them of their €4.4m fortune.
Thierry Tilly (48), was found guilty of a "Machiavellian plot" to convince 11 members of the de Vedrines family in Bordeaux and Oxford that they were in danger from Freemasons, a secret society and paedophiles.
The judge said Tilly brainwashed the family through "group paranoia" by "excluding opponents'' and "exploiting family weaknesses" and remaining omnipresent either "physically or via phone or emails". For a decade, he kept the de Vedrines under his "spell", fleecing them of their savings and property.
He claimed he was a secret agent whose job was to protect them. But yesterday a Bordeaux court found him guilty of abuse of weakness of people under psychological control, arbitrary imprisonment and violence. He was jailed for eight years. Jacques Gonzalez (65) was jailed for four years for complicity and deception. (©Daily Telegraph, London)