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Parents Jailed Over Death Of Boy With Rickets
The parents of a boy with rickets who died after his care was neglected due to their religion have been jailed for manslaughter.
Nkosiyapha Kunene, 36, and his wife Virginia, 32 - who admitted the manslaughter of their five-month-old Ndingeko - were jailed for three years, and two years, three months, respectively.
Delivering the sentence at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Singh said: "The secular courts of this country apply the secular law of the land. They do so equally to all who come before them. The law respects the right of everyone to freedom of thought and belief.
"However the right to manifest one's religion is not absolute. It is limited in particular by the rights of others. The state has a particularly important duty to protect the right to life, especially when a young child is concerned.
Ndingeko was born in January 2012 and died six months later, the court heard.
He was found to be suffering from rickets due to a severe deficiency of vitamin D.
Rickets is a disease that affects bone development in children. It causes the bones to become soft which can lead to deformities.
From birth, Ndingeko had medical problems, and the judge said it was emphasised on behalf of the couple, of Erith, Kent, the vitamin D deficiency was not diagnosed at that stage, nor was Virginia Kunene given advice about taking supplements.
But she did not attend a scheduled check-up on March 8 and Ndingeko was not seen by a health care professional until he died.
The judge said: "It is clear that, because of their own religious beliefs, the defendants did not in fact seek medical assistance."
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