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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Father's tears over Climbie photo
Francis and Berthe Climbie at the inquiry
Victoria's parents flew from Ivory Coast for the inquiry
The father of abuse victim Victoria Climbie broke down in tears as he was shown a horrific photograph of the injuries that preceded her death.

Francis Climbie has travelled from his home in the Ivory Coast to attend the public inquiry into his daughter's killing.

He sobbed as he saw the photograph of her missing a tooth with her face badly bruised.

Victoria, eight, had 128 separate injuries on her body when she died in Tottenham, north London, in February last year.

Victoria and her great-aunt Kouao
Kouao systematically abused Victoria
Great aunt Marie-Therese Kouao, 44, and boyfriend, Carl Manning, 28, were both jailed for life for her murder in January.

Victoria's parents had allowed Kouao to take her to Europe in 1998 in the belief she would receive a better education.

Speaking through an interpreter, he told the inquiry: "It is very horrible."

He added: "She was not looking like this when she came over to England. She had all her teeth and she was pretty.

Father's worries

"She was a pretty girl. I feel how much my daughter was hurt."

The hearing was adjourned temporarily so that Mr Climbie could compose himself.

Mr Climbie said he had started to become worried when he received pictures showing a thin-looking Victoria.


She was a pretty girl - I feel how much my daughter was hurt

Francis Climbie
Victoria's father
"What was strange was that the letters I was getting were saying that my daughter was well and happy.

"It was a contrast with what I could see in the pictures."

Mr Climbie said that he was so worried that he wanted to get in touch with Kouao but he did not have an address for her in England or the money to make a international telephone call.

Earlier he had spoken of how excited Victoria and the family had been when she was given the opportunity by her great-aunt in October 1998 to travel to Europe for the chance of a better education.

'Trustworthy'

On Friday Mr Climbie told the inquiry he had trusted Kouao.

"The way she looks and spoke proved in my mind that she was honest and genuine," he said.

Victoria's mother Berthe said that although she had met Kouao on just three previous occasions - all family funerals, she had seemed trustworthy.

The 41-year-old added that Kouao had given her money so that Victoria could have her hair braided and decorated before the trip.

Kouao had subsequently told the family that Victoria was doing well in France and had a job at an airport, Mrs Climbie said.

The inquiry has heard how Victoria was starved, beaten with coat hangers, bicycle chains, bound naked and made to sleep in a bath in a freezing bathroom.

On Wednesday, Neil Garnham QC, counsel to the inquiry, said she had been put in a black plastic sack and forced to lie in her own excrement and urine.


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