A man accused of starving his stepdaughter to death at his home in Birmingham believed she was possessed by an evil spirit.
Junaid Abuhamza said he thought Khyra Ishaq and other children under his care were possessed by the spirit as well as the house they were living in.
But he told Birmingham Crown Court he did not get any help because he thought he could cope with the situation.
Abuhamza, 31, and Angela Gordon, 35, the mother of seven-year-old Khyra, have denied murdering her.
Gordon has also denied five charges of child cruelty.
It is alleged both defendants subjected Khyra to months of “calculated” cruelty during which she and other children at their home in Leyton Road, Handsworth, were starved as well as assaulted.
Timothy Raggatt QC, prosecuting, said Khyra eventually became so emaciated that she succumbed to an infection in May 2008.
Under cross-examination, Abuhamza said he genuinely believed that the children had been possessed and was asked by Mr Raggatt: “Did you ask anybody for help?”
He replied: “I thought I could cope. I have always tried to do everything for myself. I do not like asking people for help.”
Mr Raggatt said: “In the last two weeks of Khyra’s life, when she could barely walk or stand up for a short time unaided, was not eating and was in pain, what went through your mind?”
He replied: “I don’t know.”
He added: “Things deteriorated rapidly in the house. Everything just broke down.”
Abuhamza also said he believed that it was too late for anyone to perform any kind of exorcism.
Earlier, on the question of food, he was asked by Mr Raggatt: “There was a very different eating regime for you and Gordon and the children. You and Gordon ate properly and the children starved?”
Abuhamza replied: “There was no reason for me to do such a thing. There has to be a reason.”
Asked when he had a bolt fitted on the kitchen door, Abuhamza said it was about two weeks before Khyra died and it was because there had been a burglary next door.
Abuhamza said he had caught one of the boys taking peanut butter from the kitchen and went on: “The only reason I punished him is because I tried to teach him not to steal, not because I wanted him to starve.”
The case continues