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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 22:15 GMT
Pastor prayed for 'possessed' Victoria
Victoria with her great aunt Marie Therese Kouao and Kouao's boyfriend Carl Manning
Victoria's great-aunt was told to take her to hospital
A pastor has told the inquiry into the death of abuse victim Victoria Climbie he prayed and fasted for the child because her great aunt believed she was possessed by evil spirits.

Alvaro Lima, a pastor at the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in London, said the eight-year-old told him Satan had told her to burn herself.

She died less than a week later.


She said she liked doing bad things. I thought this was all part of her nightmares and a result of past traumas

Pastor Alvaro Lima

Victoria had 128 separate injuries to her body when she died in Tottenham, north London, in February 2000 after suffering months of abuse, torture and neglect.

Her great aunt, Marie Therese Kouao, 44, and Kouao's boyfriend Carl Manning, 28, are serving life sentences for her murder.

Pastor Lima told the inquiry that at first he had no concerns about Victoria's medical welfare, despite her being withdrawn and having virtually no hair.

He also said in a written statement to the inquiry the little girl had told him "that Satan controlled her life, that Satan had told her to burn her body".

Pastor Lima said: "She said she liked doing bad things. I thought this was all part of her nightmares and a result of past traumas.

Witchcraft

"She had an angry look on her face when she said this."

Pastor Lima told the inquiry in central London he did not believe her, but decided to pray and fast with an assistant because he believed she had "spiritual problems".

He said: "I was concerned but the mother was so desperate to find help for her child."

The minister said he believed people could be possessed by evil spirits and thought she might have heard the words from television, books or her great aunt, whom at the time he believed was her mother.

Kouao had visited his church in Finsbury Park, north London in February last year with Victoria and Manning in a bid to find a "cure" for the young girl.

The youngster was taken to a "deliverance from witchcraft" service before seeing the pastor the next day.

Victoria Climbie
Victoria had 128 separate injuries to her body when she died

The trio returned to the church five days later - the day before Victoria's death.

On this visit the pastor admitted to the inquiry he had suspicions the young girl was being neglected.

He described how Victoria's eyes were opening and closing as though she was fainting, and she was cold and wet.

Under questioning from Caroline Gibson, counsel for the inquiry, he admitted he did not call the police, hospital or social services. With hindsight, he agreed he should have done.


Possession is something we learn from the Bible. I generally do not question the Bible

Julian Kimbidima

Pastor Lima described a conversation with Kouao when he asked if she been doing something to the child.

"She said, 'No I love this child'. That is when I said, 'so take her to the hospital'."

The inquiry also heard from husband and wife, Julian and Chantal Kimbidima, who became friends with Kouao.

They too told the inquiry Kouao had said Victoria was possessed by evil spirits.

Asked what the demons were making her do, he said: "Wetting herself, soiling the whole house, prostituting herself (in the Ivory Coast), putting faeces in food and cockroaches on everything she could find."

He said at the time he believed the little girl was possessed.

"Possession is something we learn from the Bible. I generally do not question the Bible," he said.

Asked by Ms Gibson if he did not think it was bizarre that Victoria would sit in the corner when invited to his house, while his children played, Mr Kimbidima replied: "The child was possessed, it is not very bizarre."

The couple had at one time agreed to look after Victoria for six months, after being asked by social services when the great aunt accused her boyfriend of sexually abusing the little girl.

But they withdrew the help the same day.

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