Doctor and wife convicted of keeping young man as a slave for 24 years

NewsBy Sunday World
Emmanuel Edet and his wife Antan
Emmanuel Edet and his wife Antan

A doctor and his wife have been found guilty of keeping a young man as a slave for 24 years.

Emmanuel Edet, 61, a trained obstetrician, and his wife Antan, 58, a senior sister at a hospital, were each found guilty of cruelty to a child, slavery and assisting unlawful immigration.

The couple of Perivale, north west London, are to be sentenced at Harrow Crown Court today.

Their victim Ofonime Sunday Inuk, now aged 40, had told the jury that he was paid nothing for the work he carried out including looking after the couple's two children, cooking, cleaning and gardening.

The gently-spoken Mr Inuk, who gave his evidence from behind a screen so that he could not see his tormentors, told the court that his passport was hidden from him for more than a decade, saying it was with Dr Edet.

The Edets changed the victim's name and added him to their family passport as their son when they first brought him to the UK in 1989. He believed they would pay him for his work as a "houseboy" and would provide him with an education while he was in the UK.

He was about 14 years old in 1989 when he left his native Nigeria with the Edets, travelling first to Israel before arriving in the UK.

After the verdict Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Damaris Lakin described the abuse as "a shocking case of modern day slavery which has no place in our society" adding that the Edets had "cruelly robbed this victim of 24 years of his life".

She said: "Not only did the defendants have total psychological control over the victim, but they also had control of his passport and identity documents.

"He was told by the Edets that if he left the house and reported matters to the police he would be arrested as an illegal immigrant and sent back to Nigeria. He believed this and felt trapped and completely dependent on the Edets.

"The victim's dreams of gaining an education in the UK were destroyed as he realised the Edets had no intention of sending him to school and he was made to work up to 17 hours a day, eat all his meals alone and have no social interaction with the family. He was made to sleep largely on the floor in hallways (below) despite there often being a spare bedroom in the houses where the family lived."

In their "self-appointed ownership" of Mr Inuk, the Edets "controlled what he wore, what he did and how he spoke for the majority of his life", according to Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Phil Brewer.

He said: "When the victim left Nigeria, he was a young boy with aspirations but the Edets abused him until he became timid, nervous and obedient.

"Today the victim is living a new life in the UK. He has a job, a home with his own bed and freedom to move, and he is studying. While he will never fully overcome what happened during those 24 years, he is determined to make the most of the rest of his life and today's conviction will help him feel he can do that. In his own words, he has hope and a future now.

"I urge anyone else being treated the way that this victim was to please tell the police or call the national trafficking helpline. There are specially trained people waiting to help you."

Ben Cooley, of Hope For Justice campaign, described this case as " but "unfortunately, not surprising".

Mr Cooley, who said the campaign had helped more than 70 victims in the UK since January, added: "To all those others still out there I say, please have the confidence to come forward, we will do all that we can to help you."