Couple jailed for trafficking and exploiting woman - Watford

05/02/2016

A couple, who trafficked a young African woman to the UK to act as an 'all but free' house worker, appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Friday, 05 February 2016, and were jailed.

The victim, now aged 25, from Togo, was taken to Nigeria for two years and then flown to this country in 2007 to work as a nanny for six years for Oluremi Omotoye, aged 49, and his wife Taiwo Omotoye, aged 43, of Sherwood Court, High Road, Leavesden, Watford. The victim's name was changed and she was abused, both verbally and physically, and exploited by being made to work 60 hours a week.

The couple appeared for sentence having been convicted in December last year, by a jury, of trafficking a person for exploitation. He was jailed for 30 months and his wife, who had been responsible for physical assaults, was jailed for 36 months.

Jailing them, Judge Jonathan Carroll said the wife was the "driving force" in the victim being illegally trafficked. He told her: "Your objective was to have an all but free live-in house worker to use as you saw fit."

The victim, he said, had come to the UK on the false promise of financial reward and an education. But once in the country, under fake employer documents, she worked for "less than a pittance."

The Judge told the wife: "You were domineering, bullying and intimidating. You tolerated no dissent. She was nothing but an animal to you."

He said that her husband must have been aware of the sham application and the trafficking of the victim.

In addition to their custodial sentences, the couple must pay the victim £5000 compensation.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the human trafficking of a young African woman, now aged 25, from Togo to Leavesden, Watford, for exploitation.

"Oluremi Omotoye and his wife, Taiwo Omotoye, obtained a Visa in 2007 for the woman, in a different name and with a different date of birth, and shipped her to the UK from Nigeria, where she had been working as a housekeeper for 2 years. On arrival in Watford she was put to work, controlled and abused.

"The verbal and physical abuse involved the serious mistreatment of a vulnerable woman by this couple. She had little option but to continue to work for them, because she was trapped by her personal circumstances and wholly dependent on them. They used intimidation, threats of violence and actual violence when unhappy with her work, to prevent the victim leaving them or from alerting the authorities to their mistreatment.

"They forced her to work very long hours, often 60 hours a week, for little and more often than not no money and took advantage of her vulnerability and inability to protest in doing so. She did not have her own room, slept on a mattress on the floor, and had to ask permission to leave the house. It certainly was not the 'nannying' job she had been promised. The couple brought the victim to the UK under false pretences and in effect treated her like a slave for 6 years until she made her escape December 2013.

"During police interviews, Mr and Mrs Omotoye denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the victim was an informal employee and treated like a member of their family, but on 14 December 2015, at St Albans Crown Court they were found guilty by a jury of trafficking a person for exploitation, after a 3-week trial, despite their denials.

"We have worked closely with Hertfordshire Constabulary since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved. This case highlights the fact that both the police and the CPS are committed to securing justice even in the most difficult circumstances and for the most vulnerable members of our society.

"The victim was extremely brave to break her silence and I commend her for this and for giving evidence during the trial. It is shocking to hear that offences such as these can occur in modern times, but this case may not in fact be unique. Any members of the public who are concerned that a person is being subjected to similar treatment should contact their local police without delay.

"The victim has been supported throughout the case by a number of agencies since her escape, which I hope will give her an opportunity to rebuild her life. Our thoughts are very much with her at this time."