A stepfather accused of murdering a seven-year-old girl who starved to death in Birmingham has told a court: "I feel like a failure."

Junaid Abuhamza, 31, is charged with the murder of Khyra Ishaq, alongside the youngster's mother, Angela Gordon, 35.

Khyra died on May 17, 2008, after being discovered at the family home in Handsworth, Birmingham, in an emaciated state.

A jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard that she succumbed to an infection after being starved and subjected to a strict regime of punishment for a period of months.

Giving evidence, Abuhamza admitted depriving Khyra of food, forcing her to stand outside in the cold, beating her with a cane and throwing cold water over her. He told the jury he saw himself as an authoritarian figure in the house and believed she had become possessed by an evil spirit.

But he admitted he blamed himself for her death, telling jurors she should have had "sufficient and good enough food".

Dressed casually in a white T-shirt and a brown leather jacket, Abuhamza told how he was starved and beaten by his own father as a child and reverted to the same behaviour as a "coping mechanism" when he felt under pressure.

He said: "In retrospect I see that all the actions that I exhibited in the household were due to my childhood. The pressure I was under in the house became so immense that my mind basically switched off and reverted to a coping mechanism."

Abuhamza, who denies murder, said he had never intended to kill or seriously harm Khyra and did not expect her to die. He said he hadn't noticed how thin she had become, adding: "With all that was going on in the house, I couldn't see what was going on in front of me."

Asked if he loved Khyra he answered: "I did yes, I feel like a failure."

Five other children, who were also in the defendants' care, were also starved and assaulted, the prosecution alleges.

Gordon, formerly of Leyton Road, Handsworth, denies murder and five counts of child cruelty alleged to have been committed between

December 2007 and May 2008. Abuhamza, also of Leyton Road, has pleaded guilty to five counts of cruelty.