Belfast Telegraph

Woman kept as 'domestic slave' in Belfast house, court hears

Precious Izekor appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Friday
Precious Izekor appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Friday

By Alan Erwin

A woman was allegedly kept as a domestic slave at a house in Belfast after being passed from one Nigerian family to another, a court has heard.

Police said she comes from an impoverished background at the other end of the social scale from a husband and wife accused of keeping her in servitude.

Details emerged as Precious Izekor was remanded in custody charged with requiring her to perform forced or compulsory labour over a nine-month period.

The 25-year-old defendant, of Castlereagh Place in east Belfast, was detained in Scotland on Tuesday and brought back to Northern Ireland.

Her husband, 33-year-old Nigerian national Osarobo Izekor, was remanded in custody on Wednesday on the same charge.

The couple are the first to be prosecuted in Northern Ireland for alleged involvement in domestic servitude.

The alleged offence occurred between December 31, 2016 and October 1, 2017.

Detectives from the PSNI's Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit made the arrests as part of an ongoing investigation.

Documentation and mobile phones were seized during searches at a property in the city earlier this week.

According to police the alleged victim escaped the property where she was living around 16 months ago, alerting a member of the public who contacted the authorities.

Appearing before Belfast Magistrates' Court, Precious Izekor spoke only to confirm she understood the charge.

The pregnant mother of two, who holds dual British and Sierra Leonean nationality, denies the alleged offence.

But opposing bail, a detective claimed she has access to up to £18,000 in funds which could help her flee to Africa.

He also expressed concerns that the accused may try to interfere with the complainant - described as a vulnerable adult - or her relatives.

"The victim has family in Nigeria, she is from an extremely poor and impoverished background," he told the court.

"The defendant's family-in-law would be from a different end of the social scale, and we believe there would be pressure exerted over the victim's family in Nigeria."

The detective added: "The victim states that she was essentially transferred from one family to another... and would be in fear of being taken back to Nigeria and back to poverty."

Defence solicitor Eoghan McKenna confirmed Precious Izekor denied the allegations against her during interviews.

He told the court his client has limited knowledge of any relationship between her in-laws and the complainant.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Izekor has lived in Northern Ireland for a number of years, and planned to remain in the jurisdiction with her children.

But refusing bail, Mrs Bagnall remanded the accused in custody to appear in court again in four weeks time.

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