As Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu are found guilty of the murder of 15-year-old Kristy Bamu, Pierre Bamu tells Channel 4 News of his disbelief and guilt at what happened to his son.
Pierre Bamu is a very troubled man.
He is struggling to understand how his eldest daughter of six children can carry out what can only be described as the most horrific acts on one of her younger brothers – so horrific the 15-year-old boy begged for his life to end before he died.
He’s also finding it hard to comprehend how his daughter’s partner, Eric Bikubi – a man he welcomed into the family – raised the taboo of witchcraft to justify what the couple did to the boy.
“Eric had our trust,” he told me. “He had our trust.
“My daughter Magalie introduced him to me – you know, here I’m talking as a parent who has grown-up children, and the day they come to you and say: ‘Dad, I want you to meet my boyfriend,’ to please your daughter, I think that you have to accept him and say ‘My daughter has make a good choice’.
“So, to keep my daughter happy I accepted Eric as part of our family. But unfortunately he brought us death. And that is a shame.”
He brought more than shame. He brought such horrors that three of the Bamu’s children are having long term counselling. Not only did they witness such cruelty, they were forced to take part in the torture of their brother Kristy.
So perhaps one can understand when I went to talk to Mr Bamu (pictured right) about loss, betrayal, disbelief and guilt, it was to say the least so very difficult for him. His lawyer did her utmost to protect him. So much so that the interview was initially cut short and then some questions were not allowed.
Mr Bamu runs a carpentry business in a suburb of Paris. He designs and manufactures furniture for hotels and restaurants. He fled President Mobutu’s bloody regime in Zaire many years ago, long before it became the Democratic Republic of Congo and settled in France as a refugee and raised his family.
We met in his workshop. He showed me round and some of his designs. For a practical man, his skills rely on what one can see. He was truly blind to the lethal events in London over Christmas 2010.
Not only could he not quite believe the things his children were telling him over the phone, he couldn’t come to terms with a truly dreadful and distressing picture that was emerging from the flat in Newham, east London.
I accepted Eric as part of our family. But unfortunately he brought us death. Pierre Bamu
The children had come from France for Christmas to stay with his eldest daughter Magalie and her partner. Mr and Mrs Bamu were delayed by work and had planned to join them all for New Year.
Mr Bamu remains burdened with regret.
“As a businessman, my life is all about prevention, making things happen, anticipating things, seeing what other people don’t see,” he explains.
“For example, if I know that we must send four workers to a building site in two weeks time, in my head two weeks beforehand I start work on that building site in my head. But those who are going to work there don’t yet know that they will be going.
“So this is the rhythm of my life. Always looking ahead. Always seeing things before the others. Seeing things other people do not see. But I didn’t see Kristy’s death coming. Because I trusted someone I should not have trusted.”
The final words he heard from his beloved son Kristy were over the phone. Kristy begged his father if he did not pick him up “Eric will kill me.”
It was to be the last of 45 calls from London in a period of seven hours which started just after midnight on Christmas Day.
Mr Bamu tried desperately to find a way of getting to London. But Paris was in the grip of snow storms. Planes were grounded, Eurostar wasn’t running and car hire companies were shut.
At around 8pm he got another phone call – this time from his daughter Kelly. She told him “Dad, we’re at the hospital. Kristy is dead.”
He wouldn’t talk about those horrendous hours but not because he’s trying to forget.
“I know that we are all human and we will all die one day,” he simply said.
“But I wish I could have died before Kristy. Sadly, in these circumstances, this is what happened, and I have found it difficult to overcome. I have a lot of pain. Everyone is suffering because of Kristy’s absence.”
Kristy Bamu’s final words to his father were ‘Eric will kill me’
He has now suffered the loss of not just one but two children. For Magalie has been sent to prison.
The Bamu family were not at the Old Bailey for the verdict. It was enough for the parents and their four children to give evidence in an English courtroom.
Mrs Bamu at one point during her evidence said “I know witchcraft exists, but I don’t believe it”. But the ancient West African rituals of “kindoki” or the belief that someone is possessed by an evil spirit, have weaved their murderous path into a family which had long left such beliefs behind.
In the interview Mr Bamu said “I thought my children were protected from this kind of thing. But sadly you can’t control everything in life.
“So, if the London police invest in trying to pre-empt this kind of thing I can only encourage it, so that this kind of thing can never happen again, because it’s too unfair. It’s too, too, too unfair.”