Woman who kept older woman captive found guilty of slavery offences
A woman who kept a vulnerable older woman captive and stole her pension money has been found guilty of slavery offences.
Maria Miller, 64, exploited the woman, who was in her 70s, after encouraging her to come and live with her at her Chingford home. Miller manipulated the victim to perform chores in both the charity shop she ran and in her home. She also sent the victim on the streets to collect money for her charity whilst she was emptying the victim's bank account.
On other occasions Miller locked the victim out of the home so that she would go to the toilet in the garden, sleep outside in the shed and eat cat and dog food when she got hungry.
On Friday 21 June Miller was convicted of holding a person in slavery or servitude and theft following a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Richard Heatley, from CPS London North, said: "This was an appalling case of modern slavery where a kind and vulnerable woman was manipulated and exploited for a number of years.
"The victim thought she was helping her friend with chores and charity work but in actual fact she was being exploited in the most appalling way.
"Miller denied any wrongdoing and said that she had taken control of the victim's finances because otherwise the victim would hand her money out to strangers she just met.
"Modern slavery has a devastating, lasting impact on its victims. The CPS is working in partnership with the police and other criminal justice partners to build robust cases and deliver justice for victims."
Miller befriended the woman who was a volunteer at the cat orphanage she ran. The victim did not realise she was being ill-treated for some years and put up with it because she enjoyed working with the animals at the charity shelter.
The alarm was raised with social services more than seven years later when the victim ran away from the home in Chingford for the third time and sought help from a friend.
When police searched Miller's home as part of the investigation, documents were found showing the victim had supposedly changed her will leaving all of her estate to Miller.
Evidence also uncovered Miller had spent the victim's benefits on expensive designer clothes, a new car and holidays.
Miller will be sentenced on 31 July at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Notes to editors
- Maria Miller (D.o.B: 07/08/1954) is from Chingford in the London Borough of Waltham Forest
- She was found guilty of:
- Holding a person in slavery or servitude between 31 July 2015 and 17 June 2016 (Modern Slavery Act 2015),
- holding a person in slavery or servitude between January 2012 and 31 July 2015 (Coroner's and Justice Act) and theft between 1 January 2012 and 17 June 2016
- She was found not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm
- Richard Heatley is a Senior District Crown Prosecutor within the Crown Court unit for CPS London North.