Sat. Apr 20th, 2024
alert-–-student-whose-name-was-used-by-a-convicted-sex-offender-to-stage-a-fake-10,000-funeral-in-london-is-found-dead-in-a-river-in-latviaAlert – Student whose name was used by a convicted sex offender to stage a fake £10,000 funeral in London is found dead in a river in Latvia

A student whose named was used by a convicted paedophile when he staged a fake £10,000 funeral in London has been found dead in a river in Latvia, can reveal.

Jacky Jhaj, 38, had organised the funeral at the famous London Oratory in Brompton Road when it was suddenly halted by the Roman Catholic priest after he realised it was a fake event and all the mourners were actors.

The sex offender had presented he was a brother of business management student Lauris Zaube, 23, and used a fake death certificate written in Russian to persuade funeral directors to organise the elaborate service on March 4. 

It later emerged that Lauris was officially missing after disappearing from a New Year’s Eve party near Riga in Lativia in the early hours of January 1. 

Authorities in the eastern European country have now confirmed his body was recovered from the River Lielupe on March 26, close to where disappeared during freezing temperatures. 

The body of business management student Lauris Zaube, 23, was found in the River Lielupe in Latvia on March 26

The body of business management student Lauris Zaube, 23, was found in the River Lielupe in Latvia on March 26

Convicted paedophile Jacky Jhaj, 38, organised the bizarre fake funeral with an empty coffin

Convicted paedophile Jacky Jhaj, 38, organised the bizarre fake funeral with an empty coffin 

The grim discovery effectively squashes any claims that the young man had co-operated with Jhaj to fake his disappearance for the fake funeral. 

Lauris’ family had been hopeful that he might have wandered off after suffering a mental breakdown or some form of amnesia, possibly after banging his head. But these were dashed when his body was discovered last week.

The funeral directors were initially told by Jhaj that they would be collecting a body and a place was reserved for burial at Brompton Cemetery in Fulham, West London about a mile from the London Oratory Church.

But the day before the funeral at the Catholic Church they were told they had to collect cremated remains from the family home of the victim.

The source said: ‘It is not unusual to have cremated remains brought to a church if the person has died overseas. 

‘But when we got to the church there was something not right. One of my men went and had a word with the priest and suddenly it was all off.’

The tragic discovery, however, proves that Jhaj had lied when he told undertakers and church officials that he would bring cremated remains to the funeral service.  

Gita Gzibovska, a senior specialist of the public relations division of Latvian state police, confirmed that his body was recovered from a stretch of the river at Spunciems around two miles from the guest house which he disappeared from.

She added: ‘Forensic examinations have been ordered, but at the moment there are no indications that a criminal offence has been committed against Zaube.’

The funeral was meant to be that of 23-year-old Latvian man Lauris Zaube (pictured), whose body was found in a river lsat month

The funeral was meant to be that of 23-year-old Latvian man Lauris Zaube (pictured), whose body was found in a river lsat month 

Jhaj hired a group of actors to pretend to be mourners and arranged the entire service online (pictured)

Jhaj hired a group of actors to pretend to be mourners and arranged the entire service online (pictured)

Police in Riga search for missing Lauris after he went missing in the early hours of January 1

Police in Riga search for missing Lauris after he went missing in the early hours of January 1

Some of the mourners ¿ who turned out to be hired actors ¿ have not been paid for attending the funeral service at the London Oratory (pictured)

Some of the mourners – who turned out to be hired actors – have not been paid for attending the funeral service at the London Oratory (pictured)

Last month, revealed that the pair were known to each other after they appeared alongside one another in a music video. 

Lauris’ heartbroken brother Āris confirmed they had met at the annual Baldones Waterfest music festival in central Latvia where they took part in the shoot. 

READ ALSO: Revealed: Organiser of fake funeral at historic London church is a convicted paedophile who held a similar event making children as young as six ‘faint’ as he paraded up and down a pretend red carpet

The amateur video – entitled Butter Gang – remains on the YouTube account that Jhaj had used under his alias Jilliah. It shows him striking a pose topless as he dances with several younger Latvians – including Lauris.  

Despite this, Āris did not believe the two associated with each other following the making of the video, which has 1.2million views. 

He said: ‘I think it was the only project for them. At least Lauris didn’t tell about anything else.’

The connection between the pair suggests that Jhaj saw online reports about the hunt for Lauris and decided to use his name as part of a sick game.

Relatives of Lauris were shocked and horrified to read reports of the funeral for him being staged when his body had not even been found.

In another bizarre twist, was sent a rambling and anonymous email on January 5 from someone claiming to have knowledge of the disappearance of Lauris.

The far-fetched email, which had all the hallmarks of having been written by Jhaj, claimed he had been abducted by criminals and was being held to ransom.

It claimed that Lauris had been lured outside from the party, believing he was going to meet Jhaj secretly.

Father Rupert McHardy, 49, (pictured) had prepared a sermon and was in his robes, ready to start the service at the London Oratory on Brompton Rd, South Kensington

Father Rupert McHardy, 49, (pictured) had prepared a sermon and was in his robes, ready to start the service at the London Oratory on Brompton Rd, South Kensington

Video footage from inside the fake funeral showed people dressed in smart suits for mourning

Video footage from inside the fake funeral showed people dressed in smart suits for mourning

 revealed that the pair were known to each other after they appeared alongside one another in a music video. Pictured: Lauris

revealed that the pair were known to each other after they appeared alongside one another in a music video. Pictured: Lauris 

It added that the alleged plan was then for Lauris to take Jhaj back inside as a ‘surprise’ for his friends who had been in the music video with him.

EXCLUSIVEREAD HERE:  The mystery of the funeral hoax: Missing Latvian student who was subject of fake send-off using an empty coffin and actors as mourners in London church KNEW the paedophile hoaxer who staged bizarre stunt

The email went on to claim that Lauris was instead snatched by a gang and the real Jhaj had been contacted by the kidnappers demanding a ransom ‘to be transmitted immediately to an anonymous crypto hard wallet’.

Lauris vanished the party attended by 80 people which took place at a hired guest house in the hamlet of Straupciems on a remote island around 20 miles from Riga, the capital of Latvia.

His friends realised he was missing and used a mobile phone app to track him as he apparently walked along a man-made earth bank, built as a flood defence beside the River Lielupe.

But his phone signal disappeared at 3.30am after he had walked for two miles in the darkness, wearing only a white T shirt on his upper body to protect himself from temperatures of up to -8C, having left his jacket behind.

When his friends reached the scene at 4am, they found it was at a spot where the earth bank, known locally as a dam, was blocked by a former farm building being renovated as a riverside home.

The phone signal seemed to disappear near a narrow path through a reed bed which led directly down to the fast-flowing river at a point where it becomes 9ft deep within a few metres of the shore.

Searches involving divers, tracker dogs, a drone and volunteers were carried out along the river and in numerous water-filled ditches, but no body was found, suggesting to local villagers that he had been swept away.

The guest house where Lauris disappeared from during a New Year's Eve party earlier this year

The guest house where Lauris disappeared from during a New Year’s Eve party earlier this year

Authorities in the eastern European country have now confirmed his body was recovered from the River Lielupe on March 26

Authorities in the eastern European country have now confirmed his body was recovered from the River Lielupe on March 26 

Authorities searching for the body of Lauris earlier this year

Authorities searching for the body of Lauris earlier this year 

Āris discounted the possibility that his had staged his disappearance as part of Jhaj’s twisted scheme, knowing that it would have put his relatives and friends through the agony of believing he was dead.

When asked by if it was possible that he might have done so, Aris insisted: ‘No, he would never have done that.’

Jhaj pretended to funeral directors that he was a brother of Lauris called Clyde, even though the Latvian does not have a brother of that name.

A horse drawn carriage, two vintage cars, men in top hats, a full choir and even a videographer were all arranged for the service after the bill of more than £10,000 was paid in advance.

Āris said: ‘When I first read the UK article, I was in a bit of shock. Afterwards, I called Latvian police and they did confirm that it actually happened, and they are working together with the UK police on this.

‘I don’t know what were his intentions in faking the funeral for Lauris. But I hope that UK police together with Latvian police will find out.’

Āris insisted that his brother had no suicidal thoughts and would not have deliberately killed himself by jumping in the river.

He said: ‘Lauris was friendly and most of his free time he would go to the gym, snowboard or wakeboard, or play video games.

‘We had booked a snowboarding trip with him to Livigno in Italy at the end of January. We were all waiting and excited about the trip.’

Lauris vanished the party attended by 80 people which took place at a hired guest house in the hamlet of Straupciems on a remote island around 20 miles from Riga, the capital of Latvia

Lauris vanished the party attended by 80 people which took place at a hired guest house in the hamlet of Straupciems on a remote island around 20 miles from Riga, the capital of Latvia

Mother-of-five Vere Gogole, 67, who lives nearby, said: 'My sons and nephews helped search for the young boy. Everyone who lives around here was involved'

Mother-of-five Vere Gogole, 67, who lives nearby, said: ‘My sons and nephews helped search for the young boy. Everyone who lives around here was involved’

Lauris was only wearing a t-shirt when he went missing during freezing conditions on January 1

Lauris was only wearing a t-shirt when he went missing during freezing conditions on January 1

‘He was studying business management. This was his final year to get a Bachelor’s degree. Most of his time, he hung out with his friends and nothing indicated that he would tend to have suicidal thoughts.’

Āris added: ‘Some mentioned that there was a fight (at the New Year’s Eve party), but most said that Lauris wasn’t involved in it.

‘He went missing only wearing a T shirt, or someone’s hoody. He left his jacket and his wallet with his ID card and all other cards at the guest house. None of the 80 people saw when or how he had left the party.

‘With help from friends, relatives and lots of volunteers, we searched the whole island.’

The owner of the house which Lauris disappeared from told that he had converted the venue from a former stables for his own events, and friends’ celebrations, but rented it out to the woman after she found his phone number and asked to hire it.

The retired lawyer said that party-goers had danced in the open plan downstairs room, and used the sauna with some apparently taking icy dips to cool down in the pond behind his home.

The party was still going on when he and his wife who had held their own New Year’s gathering went to sleep at around 2am.

He said: ‘I got up at around noon and I realised something was wrong when I saw people searching around and looking confused. They told me their friend had gone missing at about 3am, and later on the police arrived.

Jhaj even hired a director to film the funeral using cameras set up inside the historic London church

Jhaj even hired a director to film the funeral using cameras set up inside the historic London church

Many of those in attendance wore long black coats and puffer jackets, with black clothes underneath

Many of those in attendance wore long black coats and puffer jackets, with black clothes underneath

Drone footage shows the guest house and stretch of river where Lauris disappeared from

Drone footage shows the guest house and stretch of river where Lauris disappeared from

‘The police first thought he had gone into the pond. I go in the water every day, even when it is iced over. I had broken some of the ice at the edge where it is shallow so the young people at the party could go in after a sauna.

‘But he was not in the pond, or anywhere else. His friends and family searched for him for weeks. There was also a police search. They would not have done all this if they had thought he had disappeared deliberately.

‘He was from a good family. If he had gone in the river, I do not think he would have lasted long. It is very sad. I think he would have been found, if he was in a ditch.

‘The people at the party were well behaved, and just normal young people. Everything was left in order. There was no signs of a struggle or anything.’

A professional hunter called Aldis who lives close to where the mobile phone connection for Lauris was lost, confirmed that there was no snow on the ground on the night he disappeared.

But he said temperatures had plummeted on New Year’s Eve, leading to snow covering the area two days later.

Aris said he had not been drinking on New Year’s Eve and saw nobody walking around as he returned home at 2am.

He said: ‘I walk 8kms every morning with my two hunting dogs, and I have been keeping an eye out for this young man.

‘The river was running very high at the time. There was a strong current and it was fast moving with chunks of ice swirling around. Even a drunk person could not have mistaken this.

‘I don’t believe he could have stumbled into the water – but he could have had hypothermia as he did not have a jacket, and it could have caused him not to think straight.

‘If he had gone in the river, he would have been swept away. But it is a mystery because his body has not been found. People have not stopped searching for him. They were even here a couple of weeks ago.

Jhaj previously held a similar event in which he hired young girls to pretend to faint as he walked up and down a red carpet

Jhaj previously held a similar event in which he hired young girls to pretend to faint as he walked up and down a red carpet

Dozens of child actors as young as six were recruited as supposed film extras dressed in school uniforms for the event

Dozens of child actors as young as six were recruited as supposed film extras dressed in school uniforms for the event

‘I have two theories. Either he went into the water, or he could have been picked up by someone in a car. We don’t have killers around here. All the people and families are normal.

‘I spoke to people who were searching, and they said he was a very joyful young man with no tendency for sadness or suicidal thoughts.’

Aldis who gave a tour of the area in his 4 X 4 vehicle said that walking on the overgrown path in the darkness would have been perilous, partly due to beavers digging holes in the bank which could cause someone to trip over.

Mother-of-five Vere Gogole, 67, who lives nearby, said: ‘My sons and nephews helped search for the young boy. Everyone who lives around here was involved.

‘We didn’t know the people at the party, but we just wanted to help. It is sad that we don’t know what happened to him.

‘The search went on a long time. Hundreds of people were helping. The road was full of cars. People who didn’t even know him came to search. Some young people came by bus and walked here.

‘People checked abandoned buildings, and looked in the ditches, but I think he went in the river because there is no alternative. If someone had picked him up in a car, he would have been found somewhere by now.’

Mrs Gogole who has 11 grandchildren, added: ‘Many decades ago, there was someone who landed up in the river in the winter and their body was only found about 3km away in the spring.’

A worshipper at the London Oratory recognised Jhaj as being at the fake funeral when shown pictures of him at his fake film premier in Leicester Square.

Father Rupert McHardy, 49, who was due to conduct the funeral said of the organiser: ‘I saw him in the church and he was wearing dark glasses and whenever I looked at him, he turned away. I have no idea who he is and why he would do such a thing.’

The priest had prepared a sermon and was in his robes, ready to start the service when the choirmaster warned him that something was suspicious.

He added: ‘I have never been involved in anything like this and it is very disrespectful to the church.’

Fr Rupert described mourners who turned out to be actors as being respectful and polite, although one complained about not being paid.

He added: ‘There was another group of people in puffer jackets and balaclavas, Clyde Zaube included. They had hoods and dark glasses. They were sinister-looking.

‘I tried to speak to this Clyde Zaube and he wouldn’t speak to me. It became clear he wasn’t who he claimed to be.’

He continued: ‘When I realised it wasn’t a real funeral, we said we can’t do this. We told them to leave and they all left relatively happily. If they had been a real family they would have been weeping and crying.

‘We were paid. The funeral directors were paid. We haven’t lost any money but it’s very, very weird.’

Sexual predator Jhaj from Feltham, Middlesex, was jailed for four years in 2016 for four counts of sexual activity with two 15-year-old girls.

He pretended to be a top Hollywood film producer as he befriended the girls, plying them with alcohol and giving them lifts to parties, before sexually assaulting them.

The fake funeral, however, was not the first event Jhaj had created.  

In November he staged a fake red carpet outside the Odeon Luxe cinema in London’s Leicester Square involving dozens of young children and teenagers hired as supposed film extras.

The child actors, some aged as young as six in school uniforms, were asked to pretend to faint as Jhaj paraded up and down in a red tuxedo as if he were a film star at a premier.

The Met Police are believed to have launched a fraud investigation, although Scotland Yard could not confirm its involvement.