Belfast Telegraph

Belfast mum accused of keeping Nigerian woman as domestic slave granted bail

A Belfast couple are the first to be prosecuted in Northern Ireland for suspected involvement in domestic servitude.
A Belfast couple are the first to be prosecuted in Northern Ireland for suspected involvement in domestic servitude.

A mother-of-two accused of keeping a Nigerian woman with the learning age of a four-year-old as a domestic slave in Belfast has been granted High Court bail.

Precious Izekor, 26, is charged with requiring her to perform forced or compulsory labour over a nine-month period.

A judge ruled that the financial adviser can be released from custody after being told she is pregnant with her third child.

He ordered Izekor to lodge a £10,000 cash surety and banned her from contacting the alleged victim or her family.

Izekor, of Castlereagh Place in east Belfast, is accused along with her husband, 33-year-old Nigerian national Osarobo Izekor, of committing the offence between December 2016 and October 2017.

The couple, who deny the charge, are the first to be prosecuted in Northern Ireland for suspected involvement in domestic servitude.

Detectives from the PSNI's Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit were called in after the 30-year-old alleged victim told a church friend about how she was brought to Northern Ireland in 2011, the court heard.

Prosecutors claimed the woman cannot read or write, has been assessed as having the mental age of a four-year-old, and was denied access to her passport or visa.

According to her account she worked at two locations as part of a wider family arrangement, believing she would be paid £350 a month for cooking, cleaning and childcare duties.

It was alleged, however, that she was received no cash while her family back in Nigeria was sent the equivalent of £21 a month.

During interviews the woman said she feared being sent back to a life of poverty in Nigeria.

A Crown lawyer said: "She stated that she was not allowed out, she was always working, and that on more than one occasion the applicant would leave the house and lock the door, locking her in."

The alleged victim told police she believed she would be given freedom after working for five years.

Precious Izekor, who holds dual British and Sierra Leonean nationality and is herself pregnant with her third child, was arrested in Glasgow earlier this year.

Opposing her renewed application for bail due to fears she could flee, the prosecution also raised concerns about potential interference with witnesses.

The court heard claims the injured party's family in Nigeria were offered a £15,000 bribe in a bid to get her to withdraw her statement.

It was confirmed that the alleged victim is also pregnant.

Barry Gibson, defending, described the bribe claims as third-party "tittle tattle".

He argued that his client poses no risk of absconding, telling the court her life is in the UK.

"She has been in custody for nine weeks, separated from her children," Mr Gibson added.

Granting bail, Mr Justice Colton held that a new address in Lisburn, the offer of a cash surety and medical evidence were a sufficient change of circumstances.

He prohibited her from entering Belfast, where the alleged victim still lives.

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