Religious sect parents jailed for killing baby daughter who was left to starve to death
A couple whose baby daughter was left to starve, suffer and die because of their strict religious beliefs have been jailed for a total of more than 17 years.
Brian and Precious Kandare belong to a religious sect that meets in a converted garage in the Black Country and discourages medical treatment, instead relying on the power of prayer. They believed ‘evil spirits’ were making their child ill.
This afternoon, they were jailed for nine-and-a-half years and eight years respectively.
As a result, their eight-month-old daughter, Rebecca suffered one of the worst cases of malnutrition a doctor had seen in 33 years of practice.
Little Rebecca died at New Cross Hospital on January 6 last year, weighing just 11lb 11oz – only 4lb heavier than when she was born. She had no teeth, hardly any hair, had loose folds of skin because she weighed so little and was suffering from both rickets and pneumonia.
Nottingham Crown Court, where her parents were sentenced for her manslaughter today, heard she could have been saved if taken for treatment right up until the last few hours of her life.
Brian and Precious, aged 30 and 37 respectively, are members of the Gospel of God Apostolic Church which prefers prayer to medical treatment and preaches a ‘strict religious moral code’. The couple were among a 20-strong congregation worshipping in a converted garage in the back garden of a house in Nine Elms Lane, Park Village, Wolverhampton, revealed Mr Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting.
Brian, who the court heard had an affair with another woman during the couple’s five-year relationship, eventually became a pastor at the church. He wife had also finished part of a nursing course at Wolverhampton University in 2008 before quitting her studies.
Mr Hankin said: “Rebecca’s death was preventable and was the direct consequence of a prolonged course of wilful neglect that included denial of access to medical aid.
“The fact she was failing to thrive was obvious to them, neither is unintelligent. They ignored NHS help and voluntary organisations to rely on faith healing, ritual and the power of prayer. They continued to reject modern healthcare, preferring strict adherence of the church’s teaching.
“The defendants placed higher value to the adherence of the church’s teaching than to their daughter’s welfare.”
Rebecca was born a healthy baby on April 22, 2013, and for the first weeks of life gained weight at a normal rate. She was born at the family’s home in South Avenue, Wednesfield, with no professional medical support.
But a community midwife visited the address on several occasions until May 15 when the baby was discharged from her care. The couple never sought further professional medical advice.
They turned a deaf ear to repeated advice to give Rebecca much-needed vitamin supplements. They also ignored information on the tell-tale signs of illness in the baby detailed in an official health pack given to the family by the midwives.
Rebecca missed vital appointments for screening, health checks and immunisations and the court heard her parents believed ‘evil spirits’ were the cause of her ill health.
She eventually stopped breathing at the Nine Elms Lane church. Paramedics were called but all medical assistance failed to save her.
Medical experts later said that the baby had been critically malnourished for up to three months before her death. Her weight what would normally be expected of a three-month-old infant.
“She was seriously wasted and malnourished and this led to fatal infection,” continued Mr Hankin. “A vitamin D deficiency played a major role in the infection by impairing the working of the immune system.
“But the problems were treatable by medical intervention. It is very rare in the UK for an infant to have such severe malnourishment and profound neglect of medical needs, however experts said it was highly unlikely she would have died if she had been presented for medical care up to 24 hours – and possibly just a few hours – before she passed away.”
Mr Hankin said that one of the experts who studied the case had concluded: “This is the worst I have seen in 33 years of practice.”
Another had said it was the worst case of rickets they had ever come across in their professional career.
Mr Nigel Lambert QC, for Precious Kandare, conceded there was a deliberate refusal to take medical advice.
“She chose to put the teaching of the church, above the feeding and welfare of Rebecca, but she did not intentionally starve the child,” he said.
Parents to be sentenced for baby’s manslaughter
The parents of a nine-month-old girl have admitted unlawfully killing her.
Brian Kandare, 29, and Precious Kandare, 37, of Wednesfield, West Midlands, entered guilty pleas on the day their trial which was due to begin at Nottingham Crown Court.
Their daughter Rebecca Kandare died shortly after being taken to Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital on January 6 last year.
And despite attempts to save her, Rebecca, who suffered from rickets, died from pneumonia as a result of severe malnourishment.
Brian, also known as Ngonidzashe, wore a grey jumper in the dock and sat next to Precious, who wore a mustard suit jacket.
Both spoke only to confirm their names and their guilty pleas.
Mr Justice Edis said he would sentence the pair tomorrow.
The defendants had previously been charged with the murder of Rebecca, which they denied.
They had previously been charged with Rebecca’s murder, which they denied, but they accepted the charge of manslaughter at a brief hearing at court on Monday.
Earlier this year, Wolverhampton City Council said the child was not known to social care services.