The mother of a three-year-old girl has become the first to be found guilty of Female Genital Mutilation in the UK, after a failed bid to "shut up" her accusers with witchcraft.

The Ugandan woman, 37, and her Ghanaian partner, 43, from Walthamstow were accused of cutting their daughter over the 2017 summer bank holiday.

They were arrested after they brought their daughter to hospital with serious injuries which doctors later said were consistent with female genital mutilation.

In a 999 call and subsequent accounts given to officers, the mother said that the victim injured herself after falling onto an open kitchen cupboard door from a counter top at her home.

This version of events was later discredited by medical professionals who assessed the girl’s injuries and determined that they could not have been caused in that way.

The victim gave the same account to officers during video-recorded interviews, but she later told a foster carer that she had been held down and cut.

The court heard that the injuries were deliberately inflicted by someone using a very sharp implement in the 12 hours before the girl was taken to hospital.

Police found bizarre spells inside 40 frozen limes and two ox tongues with screws embedded in them aimed at silencing police, social workers, officers and lawyers in the case.

Excerpts from the handwritten text in the messages said: "I freeze your mouth, don’t ever talk about me, shut up shut up shut up.

"I freeze u mouth never to talk about me mention anything about me.

"To everyone who I don't know who talk about I have freezed u mouths.

"I freeze u lips u words everything you say about me."

The defendants, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denied female genital mutilation and an alternative charge of failing to protect a girl from risk of genital mutilation.

The woman was found guilty today after a trial which started at the Old Bailey on January 14.

She will be sentenced at the same court on March 8.

Her co-defendant was found not guilty of the same offence.

The investigation was led by Detective Sergeant Mark Anderson, Detective Sergeant Lauren Brady, Detective Constable Laura Welham and Detective Constable Mark Crane of the Met’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Baker of the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command, said: "This was a complex, sensitive investigation with a harrowing crime committed by this defendant.

"We cannot lose sight that this case is about a very young girl who was the victim of an illegal, horrific and life-changing act at the hands of her mother.

"I would like to acknowledge the bravery she and her sibling have shown since the offence was committed.

"An array of evidence – witness accounts, and medical and forensic evidence - which showed that female genital mutilation was the cause of the girl’s horrific injuries was painstakingly built, and this evidence was presented to a jury who after careful deliberation has found this woman guilty of Female Genital Mutilation."

Carrying out female genital mutilation carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Mrs Justice Whipple who presided over the case warned of a "lengthy" jail term as she remanded the woman into custody to be sentenced on March 8.

John Cameron, NSPCC head of childline, said: "FGM has been illegal in the UK for more than 30 years and today’s first successful prosecution for carrying out this horrific practice is a landmark victory for all FGM survivors.

"In 2017/18 the NSPCC Helpline was contacted 313 times by people worried about girls who may have suffered, or are at risk of, FGM. It takes courage to report concerns as many feel ashamed or worry they will betray friends and family. But we need to end the silence that surrounds FGM to better protect children.

"We can only hope that the outcome of this case will now give others the strength and the courage to speak out about this violent form of child abuse which has absolutely no place in society.”

Inspector Allen Davis, the Met’s lead officer for female genital mutilation, said: "It is significant that this is the first female genital mutilation conviction in the UK and I hope this sends out a clear message that the Met and other partner agencies will thoroughly investigate these cases and pursue prosecutions, whilst offering full support to victims and affected parties.

"However, our work to tackle female genital mutilation doesn’t stop. It remains a grave concern shared by police and other agencies which safeguard children, and we are determined to amplify our efforts to end female genital mutilation, and build on this successful prosecution to safeguard more young people at risk of this dangerous, illegal practice.

"This case demonstrates that female genital mutilation is still happening across London and the UK, behind a cloak of secrecy. The young victims often have no way to speak out or may not even know what is happening to them.

"We work closely with partner agencies to identify safeguarding risks related to female genital mutilation, but we really need information from people in communities who know it is happening – which young people are at risk, and who is doing the cutting.”

If you know someone who you believe to be at immediate risk of female genital mutilation, call 999 immediately.

If you have concerns about the welfare of any young person, or have information about female genital mutilation-related offending, call police or the NSPCC Female Genital Mutilation Helpline on 0800 028 3550.