FGM accused had spells and curses in kitchen freezer, court hears
Spells and curses aimed at police officers and a social worker were discovered at the home of a mother accused of the female genital mutilation (FGM) of her three-year-old girl, a court has heard.
A Ugandan woman, 37, and Ghanaian man, 43, from east London, are each charged with FGM and failing to protect a girl from risk of genital mutilation on August 28, 2017.
The couple, who deny the allegations and cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared in the dock of the Old Bailey in London on Wednesday as a three-week trial began.
Prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC, opening the case against the pair, said the parents - particularly the mother - had an interest in the practice of witchcraft, with evidence of spells and curses found in the kitchen freezer when police searched her home in November 2017.
"Two cow tongues, they were bound in wire with nails and a small blunt knife also embedded in them, 40 limes were found and other fruit which when opened contained pieces of paper with names on them," she said.
"The names embedded included both police officers involved in the investigation of the case, the social worker, her own son and the then director of public prosecutions.
"These people were to 'shut up' and 'freeze their mouths'. There was a jar with a picture of a social worker in pepper found hidden behind the toilet in the bathroom. Another spell was hidden under the bed."
Highlighting WhatsApp messages between the parents the day after the alleged FGM, Ms Carberry said the prosecution say that the "morning after their child was mutilated", the pair were discussing casting a spell to "silence the police and the doctors".
She also told the jury that the young girl, who is nearly five, later told a foster carer that a woman had cut her as she was held down by her parents.
She also told the police a "witch" had been the one to do it. Both parents deny practising witchcraft.
The couple told officers that the toddler suffered her injuries after climbing to get a biscuit - falling from a work surface and straddling a cupboard door, the court heard.
During a call to the emergency services, the mother claimed she "fell on the metal and it's ripped her private parts", and told a police officer her daughter was not wearing underwear when it happened.
Ms Carberry said it is the prosecution's case against the pair that the girl was subjected to FGM at her mother's dirty home in the presence of her father, who lived close by, and that she "sustained her injuries by deliberate cutting with a sharp instrument".
She told the jury that by the time the girl was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone the same day, she had "lost a significant amount of blood as a result of the injuries they had delivered and inflicted on her".
Police were contacted by hospital staff the following day after a consultant surgeon had operated on the young girl to repair the damage.
During the surgery on August 28, he "found three separate sites of injury", as well as "no bruising or swelling" of her genitals or thighs, and holds the opinion she was probably cut with a scalpel, Ms Carberry said.
He suspected this was a Type II female genital mutilation, which involves the "mutilation of the clitoris and removal of the labia minora", she said.
The jury heard how it is estimated half of FGM procedures are carried out in girls between birth and the age of five.
Categorised into four types, with Type I and Type II involving the cutting and removal of tissue, it is a procedure which is "highly risky".
Immediate effects include bleeding, severe pain, shock and susceptibility to infection, with long-term impacts including gynaecological problems, reduced sexual enjoyment, higher risk pregnancies and mental health problems.
The trial continues.