Couple guilty of horrific witchcraft murder

 

A domineering football coach and his long-term girlfriend were found guilty today of torturing a teenage family member to death because they believed he was a witch.

Click HERE to view 'Body of evidence: Kristy Bamu's injuries' graphic

Their conviction is the culmination of a sensational 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.

After a week of tortuous jury deliberations at the Old Bailey, Eric Bikubu, 28, and his girlfriend Magalie Bamu were convicted of murdering 15-year-old Kristy Bamu at their east London flat on Christmas Day 2010.

Kristy, the younger brother of Magalie Bamu, was subjected to three days of horrific violence which included being attacked with planks, metal bars and pliers simply because his attackers were convinced that he was practising black magic. He finally died after being placed in a bathtub where he drowned.

A French national and keen footballer who lived with his parents in Paris, Kristy had travelled to London to spend the Christmas period with his 29-year-old sister Magalie. 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 but the worst of the violence was reserved for Kristy. His torture was so severe that pathologists later counted more than 100 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.

Jury members wept as a statement was read out from Kristy's father Pierre Bamu. In it he lamented that his family had been robbed not just of a son, but also a daughter and a son-in-law following the murder.

“Kristy died in unimaginable circumstances at the hands of people who he loved and trusted,” Mr Bamu said. “People who we all loved and trusted. To know that Kristy's own sister, Magalie, did nothing to save Kristy makes the pain that much worse. We are still unaware of the full extent of the brutality - we cannot bring ourselves to hear it.”

In a remarkable showing of magnanimity, Mr Bamu said he must forgive his son’s killers for the sake of his family. “We will never forget, but to put our lives back into sync we must forgive,” he said.

Bikubi, a 28-year-old football coach with a history of accusing people of witchcraft, never denied killing Kristy. At the beginning of the eight week trial he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility because of a “scizophrenia-like disorder”. However the jury decided that he was not insane at the time of Kristy's death and found him guilty of murder. He had also pleaded guilty to two counts of actual bodily harm. Magalie Bamu pleaded not guilty to murder and tried to argue that she had been made to take part in the beatings by Bikubi. She was found guilty to two counts of actual bodily harm but the jury were deadlocked over whether she was responsible for her younger brother's death. She was eventually convicted of murder after Judge David Paget QC said he would take a majority verdict from a jury that had deliberated for more than 26 hours.

Recognising the horrific nature of the trial and the harrowing evidence put in front of the court, Judge Paget excused the twelve jury members from ever having to sit on a case again should they wish not to.

“It’s been a most remarkable case and a times a most harrowing case,” he said.

Sentencing of the pair was adjourned until Monday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine