We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


Girl, 10, tells of sexual abuse in 'devil church': Child accuses relatives in video shown to jury

A VIDEO in which a 10-year-old girl wept as she told of being sexually abused in a church by her father and grandfather was shown to a court at the Old Bailey yesterday.

The one-and-a-half hour interview was conducted by a policewoman in the presence of the girl's foster mother and a social worker last autumn. The girl also described a catalogue of abuse at the hands of her uncle and other adults.

The father, 41, grandfather, 61, another uncle, 31, and an aunt, 29, variously deny 28 specimen charges against seven children, including rape, buggery, indecent assault and cruelty.

The girl, now 11, described her father as 'horrible' and said he frequently beat her. She said he started sexually abusing her when she was three and having full sex with her when she was five.

She described being taken late at night by her father and others to a 'devil church' where she was stripped, tied up, had knives held in front of her face and was abused by adults in black cloaks and balaclavas.

The girl said she was given something to drink which could have been beer. On another occasion, her father had taken her to 'a faraway pub' and forced her to drink beer, she said.

The girl said she did not know where the 'devil church' was but described it as old, saying, 'it was dark inside with webs, they used to have pictures of ghosts and stuff'.

Linda Stern QC, for the prosecution, has told the jurors they will hear from the rector of St Mary's Church, Northolt, west London, who had noticed 'unpleasant practices connected with witchcraft' had taken place at Hallowe'en 'in various parts of the church'.

Once the taped interview was over, the girl was cross-examined through a live video link running between the court and a private room in the Old Bailey. She said other children were at the church - four or five, along with 20 adults. She denied that she had made up details of the church from watching horror videos.

Mrs Stern has alleged that the defendants made the children watch obscene tapes. Several of the children described seeing 'rude' videos.

She said that as well as being sexually abused, the children were physically neglected and were kept silent through fear and threats.

They were cowed into submission, and 'sexual abuse and neglect of their other needs was the only way of life they knew'.

The trial continues.