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AN ’emaciated’ baby died after her parents left her in the care of a churchgoer with ‘supernatural healing powers’ because their extreme religious beliefs banned modern medicine.
Brian Kandare, 29, was jailed nine and half years and Precious Kandare, 37, was sentenced to eight years in prison after admitting the manslaughter of eight-month-old Rebecca, who died from pneumonia in January last year.
She stopped breathing at her parents’ Apostolic Church of God, where a 20-strong congregation held prayers in a converted garage in the back garden of a house.
At the time of her death Rebecca weighed just 11lb 9oz, there was no trace of food or milk in her stomach and she was suffering from the worst case of rickets an expert has seen in his 33-year career, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
Her parents had inadequately fed her for months, leaving Rebecca ‘morbidly thin’ as she ‘wasted away’.
In the weeks and months leading up to her death the couple repeatedly eschewed the help available to them from the National Health Services in favour of ‘faith healing, ritual and the power of prayer’, the court was told.
Three days before their daughter died they then handed over responsibility of her care to a church midwife under the belief that she had ‘supernatural healing powers’.
Justice Edis jailed Kandare for nine-and-a-half years and Mrs Kandare for eight years.
Prosecuting, Jonas Hankin said Rebecca was ‘significantly underweight and severely malnourished’ and that she weighed as much as a three-month-old when she died at the New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton.
He said: ‘Her illness was treatable and her death was preventable.
‘It is highly unlikely that Rebecca would have died if she had been presented for medical care more than 24 hours before she collapsed.
‘The stark reality of this case is that the parents placed a higher value on adherence to the church’s teachings than their daughter’s welfare.’
Their church, the Apostolic Church of God in Wolverhampton, had strict views on modern healthcare with members of the congregation encouraged to speak to the church’s ‘midwife’, who had no formal qualifications, before seeking further help for medical problems.
Members could also be excluded from certain church activities if they went to a doctor without permission, the court heard.
The church was based at a home in Nine Elms Lane when the Kandares became members. It is unclear if the church is still operating from the property.
The Kandares became members of the church in 2010, a year after they met at a different church in the West Midlands.
Hankin said: ‘Members of the congregation were undoubtedly encouraged to speak to Constance Machangara, known as the midwife, before seeking medical help, but the choice whether or not to seek medical assistance, ultimately, was theirs and theirs alone.
‘If a member of the church seeks any sort of medical treatment or help then they would have to be “cleansed” by the pastors with prayer before being accepted back into the church.’
Hankin said until a member had been ‘cleansed’, they would not be allowed to start their own songs in the church, and there were extreme examples of people being expelled.
The court heard that in 2011, Brian became a pastor at the church and undertook his role ‘with gusto’, becoming a ‘rigourous adherent of its practices and teachings.’
Precious had arrived in the UK from Zimbabwe at the age of 24 and claimed political asylum.
She was given indefinite leave to remain in 2008, the same year she started a nursing course at Wolverhampton University, completing her first year and passing her exams at the first time of asking.
However, after meeting her future husband, she became withdrawn from her friends, and dropped out of her course. The court heard the man was still seeing an ex-girlfriend from 2007, and the relationship continued until the middle of 2013.
Despite the affair and the fact Kandare hit his wife on at least two occasions, they married in a ‘native’ ceremony in 2010, before officially tying the knot in a civil ceremony in January 2013.
The couple were introduced to the Apostolic Church of God by Precious’ sisters, and became members after visiting as guests.
Hankin added: ‘Rebecca’s death was a direct consequence of a prolonged course of wilful neglect, which involved a failure to provide an adequate supply of sufficiently nutritious food and denial of access to medical aid.
‘The symptoms of wasting and malnutrition developed over time.
The court heard Rebecca had been a ‘healthy baby’ after she was born at home on April 22, 2013, with no doctor, midwife or healthcare professional present.
Kandare notified a hospital of her birth a week later by phone, but never registered her with a GP. She was then seen on five occasions by community midwives or health visitors, when a weight of 7lb 14oz was recorded, but two offers of a dose of vitamin K were refused.
The last visit was on May 15, 2013 – seven-and-a-half months before her death.
Hankin said: ‘Thereafter there followed a series of missed appointments for screening, health checks and immunisations.
‘Rebecca was not seen by any healthcare professional in the period between May 15, 2013, and January 6, 2014. She was never seen by a doctor prior to her death. She never received any vaccinations.’
The hearing was told that in the intervening period, Rebecca failed to feed properly and began losing weight.
In the end her frail body succumbed to pneumonia caused by the chronic lack of nutrition.
Hankin said she had received a ‘grossly inadequate’ food supply for at least three months before her death, but ‘probably longer’.
She developed rickets because of a lack of vitamin D, and a ‘bony abnormality’ in her chest that Hankin said her parents ‘could not have failed to notice’.
The hearing was told that on January 3 last year, the couple handed the care of Rebecca over to the church’s ‘midwife’ Constance Machangara, a woman members of the congregation were ‘undoubtedly encouraged to speak to before seeking medical help’.
Three days later, an ambulance was called to the church after Rebecca stopped breathing.
She was taken to New Cross Hospital but later pronounced dead. However, the court heard evidence which suggested she was already dead when the 999 call was made.
Reading from medical evidence after Rebecca had died, Mr Hankin said: ‘It was immediately apparent to those present that Rebecca was very small for her age.
‘She had folds of loose skin, particularly around the back of her legs and her bottom, demonstrating weight loss.
‘She did not have any teeth and hardly any hair. She was observed to be very light when her body was picked up.’
Both Brian and Precious pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of their daughter this week when their trial was due to begin.
Precious said her daughter’s death was a ‘catastrophic episode in her life’ and that she ‘remains in a state of emotional turmoil’.
Precious is also in the process of divorcing Brian, a mechanic, court heard.
Brian said he will ‘never forgive himself’.
This is a shortened version of the Daily Mail story. source-newzimbabwe.com
photo-bbc/ West Midlands Police.-Brian and Precious Kandare were guilty of the “most serious abuse of trust”, said prosecutors