A Nigerian man, Osarobo John Izekor, and his wife, Precious Izekor, who made a vulnerable Nigerian woman perform forced labour in their home in east Belfast, United Kingdom, will be sentenced for the slavery offence on June 27, 2022, a court has heard.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the pair will be required to compensate their victim with £10,000 in damages.
The husband and wife, aged 36 and 29 years old, respectively, admitted that they required another person to perform “forced or compulsory labour” in their home at Ashmount Gardens in Lisburn, between September 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017.
The couple admitted keeping the Nigerian woman as a domestic slave in their then Castlereagh Place home in Belfast for a ten-month period.
Crown barrister Charles MacCreanor said the woman, who could not read or write, arrived in Northern Ireland in 2011 and worked as a nanny for a five-year period.
When her employer returned to Nigeria in Autumn 2016, she moved into Castlereagh Place and was told money would be sent back to her family for any work she undertook.
The woman had her own room and was provided with food and clothing for the ten months she spent in their house, but she was not paid any money.
The Izekors also had possession of her passport and other documents, which she didn’t have access to.
MacCreanor said that whilst living with the Izekors, the woman was in contact with a relative of John’s, who expressed a desire for her to return to Nigeria so they could get married.
This relative asked the woman about her documentation and visa status, and when she raised this issue with Precious, they got into a fight.
Despite her request for her documents, they were not handed over to the woman, and the argument led to a “deterioration of relations”.
When Precious Izekor was out, the woman attempted to locate her passport and her other documents. She left the Izekors a few days later and went to stay with a friend.
The woman’s friend was concerned for the woman, believing she was being exploited, and accompanied her to the Home Office, according to the court.
Precious was queried about the woman by a Home Office officer who came to the Izekors’ house, and she denied knowing her.
An investigation was launched, which resulted in the involvement of the PSNI and the subsequent arrests of both John and Precious Izekor.
During his police interview, John Izekor initially denied any wrong-doing and made the case they were letting the women stay in their home and were helping her.
In her interview, Precious told officers the woman was a family friend and was never asked to do any form of work or labour.
Mr MacCreanor said there were text messages between the husband and wife which indicated the control they had over the woman whilst she was living with them.
He also said that she spoke to police about her ordeal, the woman said she felt isolated and alone whilst living with the couple.
Defence barrister Barry Gibson, representing John Ikezor, said that following his arrest his client spent three months on remand.
He also spoke of Izekor’s university education, extensive work history and his clear criminal record.
Precious Izekor’s barrister Gavan Duffy QC revealed there was a former good relationship between the two women, and said there was a complete lack of violence or physical assault.
After listening to submissions from both the Crown and defence, Judge Richard Greene QC spoke of the complexities of the case and said he wanted to consider several issues before passing sentence.
After being told that the Izekors had previously lodged £10,000 to the court to act as a surety for bail, the judge ordered that this money be paid to the woman they kept as a domestic slave.
Judge Greene told the couple the charge they pleaded guilty to was “an extremely serious offence” and released them on continuing bail ahead of sentencing, which is set to take place on June 27, 2022.
The case, which was heard at Belfast Crown Court, is one of the first prosecutions under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act (NI) 2015.