A woman who believed she had given birth to three “miracle” babies was told by the High Court yesterday that she has been the victim of a cruel deception at the hands of international child traffickers motivated by greed.
As a result, she cannot keep a one-year old boy she regards as her own.
The woman, identified only as Mrs E, told the High Court that she had been pregnant with the child for not more than 27 days. She claims she had two other pregnancies, lasting about 12 months and seven months respectively.
Giving judgment in the Family Division yesterday after a private hearing last month, Mr Justice Ryder held that the child, C, was in fact the son of unknown parents from whom he had been removed by unknown means.
Child C was taken into care by Haringey council, north London, last year. Mrs E and her husband are members of a religious movement known as the Gilbert Deya Ministries, which claims it uses divine intervention to facilitate miracle births.
Its founder, who refers to himself as “Archbishop Deya”, was described by the judge yesterday as “economical with the truth”.
He added: “I found him to be a self-serving and superficial witness who was only too happy to distance himself from the facts and even from his own wife when it suited his purpose.”
Mr Justice Ryder said the child traffickers who took C and stole his true identity had been motivated by “one of the most base of human avarices: financial greed”.
It was accepted that Mr and Mrs E had not paid for the child they had treated as their own. But the financial benefit to Mr Deya came from the very success of his ministry.
The judge said that Mrs E, 38, and her husband, 47, were married in Nigeria in 1992 but could not have children of their own. In 2002, as part of their search for a faith-based solution to their childlessness, they joined Mr Deya’s personal ministry, “an eclectic mix of traditional African custom and charismatic Christian belief”.
Mrs E believed she was pregnant last year, but tests in London proved negative. She consulted Mr Deya’s wife, who said she had given birth to miracle babies in Kenya.
As a result, Mrs E flew to Nairobi and went to what was described as a clinic.
A doctor examined her and she gave birth about 20 minutes after arriving in the clinic. She never saw the moment of birth but the child was held up for her to see.
Sadly, the first child, A, was very poorly and died less than three weeks afterwards.
A week or so later, Mrs E gave birth to C in similar circumstances. She brought the baby back to London on what proved to be a forged birth certificate and registered C with her doctor. The doctor alerted the council and C was taken into care a month later.
Mrs E went back to Kenya where says she gave birth to her third child, G, in June. The baby was left with Mrs Deya – herself now in detention – and is now in the care of the Kenyan authorities.
Since by then C had been taken away from her, Mrs E made “strenuous efforts” to have G’s birth verified by someone in authority.
She succeeded in persuading a representative of the International Red Cross to witness and video the birth of G. The judge said: “In the event and, I find, with a coincidence that is too great to ignore, the Red Cross worker was kept waiting until he could wait no longer for the birth and departed before it took place.
“Only after that had happened was an injection given to Mrs E and the baby was revealed to her within half an hour. I find that the length of the process in respect of baby G was directly connected to the possibility of external observation and hence independent verification.”
Mr Justice Ryder concluded that Mrs E had never been pregnant. “She did not give birth to A, C or G.
In a cruel deception to further the financial ends of those involved, Mrs E was deceived into thinking that she had given birth. Turning to the welfare of C, the judge said it would be dangerous for him to grow up thinking he was a miracle child. Mr Deya, who was in court for the judgment though he is not a party to the case, said afterwards that his ministry would be appeal against it.
Twenty of Mr Deya’s “miracle babies” have been taken into care in Kenya after DNA tests showed they had no genetic connection to their mothers.