Belfast Telegraph

Pregnant woman appears in court on slavery charges

Precious Izekor, 25, has been charged with requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

The court heard the alleged offence spanned the months between December 2016 and September 2017 (Liam McBurney/PA)
The court heard the alleged offence spanned the months between December 2016 and September 2017 (Liam McBurney/PA)

A pregnant mother-of-two has been remanded in custody after appearing in court accused of a human trafficking charge.

Precious Izekor, 25, of Castlereagh Place, Belfast, has been charged with requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

She was led into the dock at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning after being arrested in Scotland on Tuesday.

She indicated that she understood the charge when it was put to her.

Izekor’s court appearance comes days after her husband, Osarobo Izekor, 33, of the same address, was the first person to be charged with such an offence in Northern Ireland.

The alleged offence spanned the months between December 2016 and September 2017.

On Friday morning, the court heard that Izekor is a naturalised UK citizen who is originally from Sierra Leone, and has family in Nigeria.

She had been at her mother’s address in Scotland when she was arrested.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective said he believes he can connect Izekor with the charge.

He told the court that, if found guilty, police believe she will face a lengthy custodial sentence.

Opposing bail, the detective voiced concerns of a flight risk, telling the court the defendant has access to £18,000.

He also said police believe Izekor would attempt to interfere with witnesses, and to make contact with the victim – described as a vulnerable adult – or the victim’s relatives.

He added that the victim and the two accused were from “different ends of the social scale”.

“The victim has family in Nigeria, from an extremely poor and impoverished background,” he said, adding that the victim fears they were transferred from one family to another and fears being taken back to Nigeria and to poverty.

Izekor’s defence barrister revealed to the court that the defendant is currently pregnant and is the mother of two children.

He said she denies the allegations, adding that she has limited knowledge of any relationship between her in-laws and the complainant.

Making an application for bail, the barrister suggested a number of safeguards, including a curfew, electronic tagging, reporting to police and passport surrender.

However, district judge Fiona Bagnall denied bail and instead remanded Izekor in custody to appear again on May 31.

The husband and wife were arrested after a lengthy investigation by the PSNI’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit.

PA

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