A Nigerian Couple have been jailed for enslaving a man (who was only a teenager at that time) for almost 25 years after bringing him to Britain.
Emmanuel Edet, a 61 year old Phlebotomist and his wife Anita Edet, a 58 year old Nurse were on Monday sentenced in a London court for keeping fellow Nigerian, Ofonime Sunday Inuk as a “houseboy”. They had earlier told immigration officials he was their teenage son.
Inuk arrived in the UK with the Edets in 1989 and worked for up to 17 hours a day, looking after the couple’s two sons as well as cooking, cleaning and gardening. He was also forced to sleep on a hall floor for long periods of time during his time being held.
After watching a documentary on modern slavery when the couple went to Nigeria for Christmas in 2013, Inuk secretly emailed charity ‘Hope for Justice’ and they intervened. The victim was released last year and is living a completely different life in the UK – he has a job, a home and is also a student.
Sentencing the couple at Harrow Crown Court today Judge Graham said their treatment of Mr Inuk left him “conditioned” to his plight.
The judge also said: “He was conditioned to the extent that that he did not ask for what he wanted because he expected his request to be refused. He was paid the occasional pocket money of perhaps £10. He claims that that was only at Easter and Christmas and occasionally visitors would give him larger sums.
“He most certainly was not paid for the work that he was performing for you.
“The most serious aspect of your behaviour towards him was that it went on for an exceptionally long period of time, robbing him of the opportunity of leading a normal life.
The court heard that the sum he was in theory owed for his years of work ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Dr and Mrs Edet, from Perivale, north west London, were found guilty by a jury last month of cruelty to a child under 16, servitude and assisting unlawful immigration. They were sentenced to three years for child cruelty, six for servitude and one for the immigration offence, all to run concurrently. They will each serve a total of six years in prison.
Although their mistreatment of Mr Inuk spanned 24 years, illegal servitude only became an offence under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 so they were convicted and sentenced for their actions only between 2010 and 2013.
The gently spoken Inuk, who gave his evidence from behind a screen so he could not see his tormentors, said the Edets changed his name and added him to their family passport as their son when they first brought him to the UK in 1989 via Israel, aged around 13 or 14. His passport was then confiscated and he was told that if he left the house he would be deported as an illegal immigrant. The agreement between him and the Edets was that he would be paid and educated.
But he made several attempts to try to break away, telling the jury he spoke to a family friend, an MP, and was left feeling “a bit dejected ” when he tried to report the Edets to the police in around 2005 only to be told they could not help as it was a “family matter”.
The sentencing heard that Dr Edet also worked as a teenage pregnancy advisor for Surrey Council and for a drug safety research unit in Southampton. Dr Edet’s assets totalled around £30,000 including a house in Nigeria, while Mrs Edet, who worked as a £27,000-a-year NHS ward sister until she was arrested, had no assets.
Their lawyers argued that the Edets suffered ill health.
Story Source: The Evening Standard