England

Wolverhampton's Gospel of God Church deny hospital ban after baby death

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Media captionPastor Trust Chipendo said: "This church does not brainwash people." Pastor Guard Machangara added: "We didn't know the kid was that sick."

A church where parents of a dying baby sought "supernatural healing powers" instead of NHS care has reacted to criticism during the pair's court case.

Rebecca Kandare died of pneumonia after being starved, neglected and denied medical care, a court heard.

Her parents Brian and Precious Kandare were jailed for her manslaughter.

Pastor Guard Machangara, of the Gospel of God Church in Wolverhampton, said: "We don't stop anyone from going to hospital."

The Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children's Board will publish the findings of a serious case review into why Rebecca was not seen by medical professionals.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Brian Kandare, 29, was jailed for nine and half years and his wife Precious, 37, for eight years after they both admitted manslaughter

Mr and Mrs Kandare, of Wednesfield, handed over responsibility of the care of their sick daughter to a church midwife three days before she died, believing in her "supernatural healing powers", Nottingham Crown Court heard.

The Gospel of God Church was founded in the 1930s by preacher Baba Jowani Masow.

It is thought to be the largest religious sect in Zimbabwe and it expects members to use faith healers over modern health care, the court was told.

The Kandares worshipped with a 20-strong congregation in a converted garage of a terraced house.

Image caption Gospel of God church in Wolverhampton

Speaking following the couple's jailing, pastor Trust Chipendo said "this church does not brainwash people" but "the sick will be prayed for and they will be healed".

Pastor Guard Machangara said: "We don't stop anyone from going to hospital.

"But if someone goes to hospital they will notify the pastors so that the pastors know and they will be prayed for... We didn't know the kid was that sick."

The eight-month-old had no trace of milk or food in her stomach when she died at New Cross Hospital in January 2014, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

She weighed 11lb 9oz (5.24kg) - the same as the average three-month-old baby - and had the worst case of rickets seen in a UK child, doctors told the court.

Brian Kandare, 29, was jailed for nine and half years and his wife Precious, 37, for eight years after they both admitted Rebecca's manslaughter.

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