Both Carl and Marie-Therese go to the Old Bailey in November 2000. Their trial lasts just over two months. They, and the ‘blindingly incompetent’ child protection authorities, are to be judged. Carl denies murder but pleads guilty to child cruelty and manslaughter. Marie-Therese denies all charges.
'Marie-Therese defence was that Victoria’s condition was due to the fact that she was possessed by demons. And she maintained that throughout. Carl Manning, realising from an early stage that he was probably going to have to accept his responsibility for ill-treating this child; his defence was, ‘although I am responsible for injuring her, at the time I injured her, I didn’t intend to cause her really serious bodily harm, and I certainly didn’t intend to kill her.' Sally Howes QC, Counsel for the prosecution
Some of Carl’s statements are almost incomprehensible.
'You could beat her and she would not cry at all. She could take the beatings and pain like anything.'
But while Carl does show some shame, Marie-Therese shows no remorse for her actions. And her behaviour in court shocks everyone:
'The way she chuckled in such a menacing way and laughed dismissively, yes, it made the hairs stand on the back of my neck. This is the only time I have genuinely felt myself in the presence of evil.' Sally Howes QC, Counsel for the prosecution.
It is during the trial that it emerges that Marie-Therese used a hammer to break Victoria's toes.But neither Carl nor Marie-Therese once give a satisfactory explanation as to why they treated Victoria as they did. One suggestion is that Marie-Therese thought she may be able to access more benefits with a child. When this did not happen, she took her frustrations out on the child.
The jury takes four days to convict. Almost a year after Victoria’s death, they find both defendants guilty. Both are sentenced to life imprisonment.In an unprecedented move, they will both have to give evidence at another inquiry.