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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 15:17 GMT
Girl, 8, 'tortured' to death
Anna Climbie
Anna Climbie came to the UK from the Ivory Coast
An eight-year-old girl, brought to England for a better life, died after suffering serious cruelty and neglect, a court has heard.

Anna Climbie was beaten, burned with cigarettes and forced to sleep in a bin liner inside an empty bath, the jury at the Old Bailey was told.

She died in hospital in February, suffering from hypothermia and malnutrition.

Anna's great-aunt Marie Therese Kouao, 44, and her boyfriend Carl Manning, 28, both deny murder, although he has pleaded guilty to charges of cruelty and manslaughter.

The court was told Anna's mother Berthe Amoissi Ehoura, 40, asked the girl's father's aunt, Ms Kouao, to take Anna from Ivory Coast to give her a better life in Britain.

The Old Bailey
The case is scheduled to last four weeks
But within months of her arrival at the flat Ms Kouao shared with her boyfriend in Tottenham, north London, there were concerns about Anna's welfare.

A babysitter took Anna, who spoke only French, to hospital after seeing burns on her body. But after talks with social workers Anna was allowed home with Ms Kouao.

Five months later she was dead. A post mortem revealed 128 separate scars on her body including burns thought to have been caused by cigarettes.

Lydia Stern QC, prosecuting, said while in the care of Ms Kouao and Mr Manning, Anna had been beaten, tied up, made to eat food like a dog and forced to sleep in the bath wrapped in a bin liner.

During a police interview Mr Manning said she slept in the bath because of her frequent bed-wetting.

'Too late'

The prosecution has refused to accept his guilty pleas.

Ms Kouao told detectives Anna was possessed by witches, which had caused her injuries.

On the night of her death she was taken semi-conscious to a local church. The pastor called a minicab to take her to hospital.

The court heard that by the time she reached the emergency unit at St Mary's Hospital, in Paddington, it was too late to save her life.

Ms Stern said it was likely that had danger signs about Anna's welfare been properly investigated she would still be alive.

Mrs Ehoura told the jury Ms Kouao took the girl in October 1998, saying she had been promoted and would be moving to England.

'Don't worry. She is well'

She said she was happy about the arrangement, even though she had only met Marie Therese twice before at funerals.

Mrs Ehoura said the only contact after that were two sets of photographs of Anna passed to her by a female relative.

"When she left them with me she said 'Marie Therese says don't worry at all. She is looking after the child. Don't have any regrets.' I was very happy," said Mrs Ehoura

Another set of pictures, with a message on the back saying Anna was well, arrived after she had died.

The case continues.

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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