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Last Updated: Monday, 23 May, 2005, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Witch trial accused 'easily led'
A woman accused of cruelty to her niece after suspecting her of being a witch is "gullible and easily led", the Old Bailey has been told.

The 38-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denies conspiracy to murder and child cruelty offences against the eight-year-old girl.

The child told the court she was beaten with a shoe and belt, cut with a knife and put into a laundry bag.

The orphan had been brought to the UK 15 months earlier from Angola.

Defence witness John Warren, an educational psychologist, said the woman had learning disabilites and was in the bottom one per cent of the population in intelligence.

Chilli peppers

He said she was more likely to be "gullible, easily led and vunerable".

The woman was found not guilty today of aiding and abetting another woman in child cruelty by rubbing chilli peppers in the girl's eyes. It followed the acquittal of a 21-year-old woman last week.

The aunt and Sita Kisanga, 35, from Hackney in East London, who also denies conspiracy to murder and child cruelty, today pleaded not guilty to another charge of child cruelty - an alternative charge to the conspiracy charge.

Kisanga's brother, Sebastian Pinot, 33, of Stoke Newington, North London, denies aiding and abetting child cruelty.

The girl concerned is now 10 years old.



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