Boy, 15, 'tortured to death with hammer and chisels on Christmas Day because relative thought he was a witch'

  • Kristy Bamu was killed by his sister and her boyfriend, Old Bailey is told
  • Boy eventually drowned in bath, in such pain he couldn't keep his head above water, court hears
  • Police recovered bloodstained pliers, a hammer chisel and several knives from the flat

A teenager accused of witchcraft was tortured to death by his sister and her partner in 'a tale of horror' on Christmas Day, the Old Bailey heard.

Eric Bikubi, 27, and Magalie Bamu, 28, attacked Kristy Bamu, 15, and his two sisters with pliers, knives and a hammer after accusing them of being 'sorcerers', it is claimed.

Kristy was in such pain after days of being attacked with sticks, a metal bar, hammer and chisel that he begged to die, jurors heard.

The teenage boy had suffered more than 100 injuries - his face and head were covered in cuts and some of his teeth were missing when he was found in the blood-soaked flat.

A court drawing from the Old Bailey of Eric Bikubi, 27, and Magalie Bamu, 28, who deny murdering Bamu's 15-year-old brother Kristy after accusing him of being a sorcerer

He had died from a combination of his injuries and drowning.

The court was told he was in such pain and so exhausted from his ordeal that when he was forced into a bath he could not keep his head above the water.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC said the case involved 'unspeakable savagery and brutality'.

At one point during their ordeal, the siblings were forced to hit their brother, and when Bikubi realised that the boy's sister was only pretending he forced a lightbulb into her mouth and threatened her with a knife.

She asked Bamu why she would not protect them, but Bamu simply said 'they deserved it and that she had no pity for them', the court was told.

Mr Altman said Bikubi has admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but this was rejected by the prosecution who say the couple carried out 'the very deliberate murder' of Kristy.

The extent of the horror emerged after Bamu called an ambulance to her home in Forest Gate, East London, on Christmas Day 2010 and told the operator her brother had drowned himself in the bathroom.

Mr Altman said Kristy had 101 injuries and warned the jury: 'It is obvious this is a dreadful and distressing case.

'The boy was subjected to unimaginable physical torture at the hands of his older sister and her partner and by some of his siblings, who in order to avoid violence to themselves, were forced to participate in the brutality being meted out to Kristy.

'There will therefore be no sparing you the dreadful details of this boy's end and the horrors that he and his siblings endured in that flat over those few days leading up to the day that Kristy died.'

The court was told how the paramedics tried to save the boy but he was already dead.

When they arrived at the flat the paramedics also found Kristy's four siblings - brothers Yves, 22, and a 13-year-old, and two sisters Kelly, 20, and a younger sister.

‘All were standing in the living room, hysterical, terrified and soaking wet. None of them spoke any English. Both girls appeared to be injured,’ said Mr Altman.

All the family were French but Kelly allegedly confided in a paramedic who spoke the language.

Jurors at the Old Bailey heard the teenager was killed because he was suspected of witchcraft

'What she told them was a tale of horror,' Mr Altman told the court.
Kelly had pointed out a piece of wood with which, she said, Bikubi had hit her over the head, and a metal bar with which she was beaten.

She had also pointed to a hammer which he had used to hit Kristy in the mouth, the court heard.

A plastic bin bag contained broken ceramic floor tiles which she said had been used to hit Kristy over the head.

'She went on to explain to the paramedic that over the last four days Eric Bikubi had been abusing the younger sister, Kristy and herself,' Mr Altman told the court.

Police were reported to have recovered the bloodstained pliers, a hammer chisel and several knives.

'As you will discover, quite incredibly many of these items were to become part of the armoury of weapons which were used by the defendants to beat Kelly and and torture Kristy to death,' Mr Altman said.

‘In a staggering act of depravity and cruelty, they both forced the others to take part in the assaults upon Kristy.’

The five siblings had left their home in Paris to spend Christmas with the couple at the flat in East London.

'They had stayed with them before and just as with their previous visits they had enjoyed themselves for the first few days,' Mr Altman said.

'But the mood had changed when Bikubi accused Kristy, Kelly and the 11-year-old of being sorcerers - practising witchcraft.

'Despite her own siblings' denials that they were sorcerers, Magalie Bamu joined her boyfriend in repeating these fantastic claims and participating in the assaults.

'Both Erik Bikubi and Magalie Bamu beat the three of them, refusing to let them eat drink or sleep for days while the punishments became increasingly violent with them using the many implements found in the flat as weapons of torture and physical abuse.

‘However, it was Kristy who became the focus of Bikubi's attention and, in a desperate attempt to prevent any further suffering, he and his two sisters were eventually to admit to being sorcerers.

'Wickedly, the defendants also recruited sibling against sibling as vehicles for their violence.

'In a staggering act of depravity and cruelty, they both forced the others to take part in the assaults upon Kristy.'

At one point as the abuse was going on 'Eric Bikubi made Kelly and the others take hold of Kristy, who had been forced to kneel with his head down while Bikubi smashed several floor tiles over Kristy's head such that they broke', Mr Altman said.

'He also struck with a bottle, as Kelly recalls. Bikubi and Magalie Bamu then set about him, each with a metal bar. Mercilessly, Bikubi smashed his teeth with a hammer.'

When Kristy said he was thirsty he was forced to drink one of the other children's urine, the court was told.

Mr Altman went on: 'As Kirsty's injuries became ever more severe he even pleaded to be allowed to die.

'Eventually Bikubi took him into the bathroom, put him in the bath and started to run the water.

'Kirsty was just too badly injured and exhausted to resist or to keep his head above the water. It is possible he was even unconscious.

'Bikubi turned the shower on to his head, telling him to get up and telling him he would experience God's strength,' said Mr Altman. 'But Kristy could not get up. He was trembling and had no energy. He was just too badly injured.'

The court was told: 'While Kristy succumbed to death, Bikubi put Yves, Kelly and the two other children into the bath with their brother and hosed them all down with cold water using a shower head.'

Kristy had been found on the bathroom floor and Bamu said her brother had drowned himself in the bath, it was alleged.

His head and face were covered in deep cuts and bruising, his arms and back had cuts, and there were teeth missing or loose.

'Kristy had been the victim of a prolonged attack of unspeakable savagery and brutality,' said Mr Altman.

The court was told that several calls had been made to the children's father Pierre in Paris, and Kristy told him that Bikubi was going to kill him.

But Mr Bamu did not believe his son because he had always regarded Bikubi as ‘pleasant and gentle’.

‘He had sent his children on holiday, not to a torture chamber,’ added Mr Altman.

Mr Altman told jurors that the couple were believers in 'kindoki' - a form of witchcraft that pervades almost all sections of their native Congolese society.

He said: 'Kindoki usually denotes a negative, malicious force, by which people in conjunction with the spirits, or by spirits alone, deliberately inflict harm.

'Kindoki pervades Congolese life, from high to low, rich to poor, and a believe in kindoki is not inconsistent with Christianity, because in the Congo it is practised in the churches with active support of the pastors.

'Fasting allegedly possessed children for days, and cleansing or purifying with water, are known features of practice.

'We actually say that was what was practised by these two on those children.

'If the practice of kindoki is dislocated from the control of the churches and the supervisory influence of religious leaders, then it may take on a feral and, indeed, evil character - as the prosecution suggest it did here.

'The defendants were seeking Kristy's deliverance and exorcism through the dealing out of ever-increasingly violent punishments.'

He added that all three children were 'clearly traumatised' by what they had endured and witnessed during their alleged ordeal at the flat, 'no less by the fact that a family holiday had ended in the tragic death of one of them.'

'In those circumstances, it is not going to surprise you to learn that there are bound to be gaps in the accounts that the children give,' he said.

The prosecution is to call expert evidence from Dr Richard Hoskins, an academic from Kings College University who has researched Congolese beliefs in witchcraft.

The couple deny murder and causing actual bodily harm to Kelly and the younger daughter.

The trial continues.