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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?