The wife of a Mormon bishop has told a crown court jury she didn't do enough to help the victims in an alleged case of child cruelty.

Deidre Carrington, 41, from Chiswick, and Maria Keable, 60, of Ramsgate, are said to have administered chilli powder and raw chillies to the children as a punishment, encouraged one child to hit the others with stinging nettles, slapped and beat the children, forced them to eat raw eggs for breakfast and used rolling pins and wooden spoons on them.

The women - both members of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints - deny six charges of cruelty to a person under 16 and one allegation of assault causing actual bodily harm between January 1997 and January 2006.

Elaine Patterson told the court at Canterbury she felt she should have done more because the children needed support.

"I feel I didn't do enough for these children and should have done more but nobody likes to be called a busybody," she said.

Mrs Patterson said she saw frightened children and she knew they were very unhappy.

"I knew until something happened nothing would be done. I knew these children would have to be hurt before somebody believed them," she told the jury.

She said her husband had spoken to the defendants about giving the children chilli and was assured it was a one-off incident and wouldn't be repeated.

The children in evidence have said chilli was used as a punishment more than once.

Mrs Patterson's husband, John, told the court his church would not agree with any physical abuse towards any child and were encouraged to bring it to the attention of the authorities if they knew it was happening.

"If we know of any abuse we must report it to the church social services and if they cannot help in 24 hours, we must report it to the local authorities," he said.

He said he was bishop for four or five years at the time of the allegations.

One of the alleged victims was brought to him with a complaint about chillies and when he spoke to Ms Carrington she said she had administered it but, he told the jury he strongly suspected it was Ms Keable.

"My wife brought me the child, concerned that chillies had been given to her. I summoned sisters Carrrington and Keable to my office to try and find out what was happening.

"It is never appropriate to smack a child, that is the church's views. We are instructed not to smack our children."

Matters came to light when school staff saw injuries on one of the children and both defendants were interviewed.

Ms Keable, who is Macedonian, said the use of chilli in her country was normal and her mum used stinging nettles.

Ms Carrington said the church had strict laws and good principles and taught children how to work and be obedient. The court was told she had emotional problems when she made one of the children eat chilli.

The trial continues.