The Face of Child Torture; Mother Flees in Tears as Pictures of Her Murdered Child Are Shown

By Harris, Sarah | Daily Mail (London), September 27, 2001 | Go to article overview

The Face of Child Torture; Mother Flees in Tears as Pictures of Her Murdered Child Are Shown


Harris, Sarah, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: SARAH HARRIS

THE mother of Victoria Climbie ran sobbing from a public inquiry yesterday after seeing horrific images of her murdered eightyearold daughter.

The child froze to death after suffering months of cruelty from her great aunt, Marie-Therese Kouao, 44, and her boyfriend Carl Manning, 28.

She had been starved, beaten and bound naked in a bath.

After her death, 128 separate injuries were found on her body.

Social services, health officials and police missed at least 12 opportunities to save her.

Kouao and Manning are serving life for the youngster's murder in what has been described as Britain's worst child abuse case.

Her parents, Francis and Berthe Climbie, had sent Victoria to live with her aunt in England from their home in the Ivory Coast in April 1999 to improve her educational opportunities.

Ten months later she was dead.

Yesterday, on the first day of the inquiry, they listened as the catalogue of blunders was outlined. But when three photographs showing her daughter's burnt and bruised face were shown to the panel, Mrs Climbie ran out sobbing.

They were taken after Victoria was admitted to North Middlesex Hospital in London by Kouao, who claimed the little girl had poured hot water over her own head.

Despite nurses spotting clear evidence of abuse, Victoria - who was called Anna by her aunt - was allowed home to suffer more torture.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Climbie, 41, said: 'I hadn't seen these photographs before. I just can't understand how a human being can inflict such pain on a child.'

Her husband, 45, added: 'We feel that we have to get to the hierarchy because it's easy to scapegoat employees. But it goes to the top.

Decision makers share the responsibility for what happened to our daughter.'

Chairman of the inquiry, Lord Laming, said the case would mark an 'enduring turning point' in child protection in Britain.

Neil Garnham QC, counsel to the inquiry, said that over ten months, at least 12 opportunities to intervene were missed by the authorities. …

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