A domineering football coach and his long-term girlfriend were found guilty yesterday of torturing a teenage family member to death because they believed he was a witch.
Eric Bikubu, 28, and his girlfriend, Magalie Bamu, were convicted of murdering her younger brother, Kristy Bamu, at their east London flat on Christmas Day 2010. The 15-year-old had been subjected to three days of horrific violence which included being attacked with planks, metal bars and pliers. His attackers were convinced he was practising black magic. He eventually died after being placed in a bathtub where he drowned.
The conviction of Bikubu and Magalie Bamu is the culmination of a harrowing eight-week trial that has thrown a dramatic spotlight on the belief within some immigrant communities that people can be possessed by evil spirits; and the horrendous violence that is sometimes meted out to those who are accused of sorcery.
Kristy, a French national and keen footballer who lived with his parents in Paris, had travelled to London to spend the Christmas period with his sister Magalie, 29. He was accompanied by his older brother Yves, his older sister Kelly and two younger siblings who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The visit began amicably but soon descended into an orgy of violence directed towards Kristy, Kelly and their younger sister after Bikubi became convinced that all three were practising kindoki – a Congolese term for sorcery.
All three were savagely beaten in an attempt to exorcise them of evil spirits. Kristy suffered the worst of the violence. His torture was so severe that pathologists later counted more than 130 separate injuries on his body. Two of his teeth had been knocked out and a chunk of his ear had been torn off by a pair of pliers.
Bikubu and Bamu will be sentenced on Monday.