A sex trafficker who used African witchcraft rituals to silence young girls smuggled into Britain to be sold on as prostitutes has been jailed for 20 years.
Osezua Osolase, 42, preyed on poverty-stricken Nigerian orphans and tricked them into travelling to the UK with the promise of a better life. But instead the Nigerian treated the victims as "commodities" to be used in a form of "modern-day slavery" by attempting to send them on to mainland Europe to be sexually assaulted by gangs.
West African juju rituals were used to instil terror into Osolase's three vulnerable victims, one aged just 14, who felt helpless because they feared retribution and had no-one to turn to. At Canterbury Crown Court on Friday, he was found guilty of five counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation, and one each of rape and sexual activity with a child.
Sentencing him, Judge Adele Williams told Osolase, a recycling worker from Beaumont Drive, Gravesend, Kent, that he was "devoid of conscience, devoid of compassion to your victims". Osolase, who has HIV, showed no emotion as sentence was passed.
Judge Williams said: "You were dealing in exploitation and manipulation and degradation. You have been convicted on clear and compelling evidence."
She went on: "I have seen and heard you give evidence and you are undoubtedly a very, very dishonest man. You are arrogant and manipulative, you are devoid of conscience, devoid of any compassion to your victims."
It was recommended that Osolase be deported once he has served his sentence.
Detectives revealed that one 16-year-old girl described how a juju ceremony performed on her in Nigeria involved her having samples of blood extracted. Hair from her head and intimate parts were also cut and she was made to swear an oath of silence and smuggled into Britain before an unsuccessful attempt was made to farm her out to Italy.
Police believe there were at least 25 suspected victims of the trafficking ring, which smuggled girls using fake passports and visas from Nigeria and into the UK and on to countries including Italy and Spain.
Osolase was stopped at Stansted Airport in Essex in April last year, leading inquiries by the UK Border Agency to then be passed to the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate. Investigations revealed that he was the prime suspect in multiple human trafficking offences where girls had been flown from Nigeria to the UK before being sent out to Europe.