“A Perivale couple who enslaved a man for almost a quarter of a century has been convicted today, Tuesday 17 November, at Harrow Crown Court.
Doctor Emmanuel Edet – a 61-year-old (28.06.54), a phlebotomist – and his wife Antan, a 58-year-old (05.04.57) senior nursing sister of Haymill Close, Perivale, were found guilty of holding a person in slavery or servitude, child cruelty, and assisting unlawful immigration.
They took the victim from his home country, Nigeria, to the UK without his family’s permission in 1989, when he was 13 years old.
He agreed to be their “house boy” on the basis that he would be paid and receive schooling, but they made him carry out arduous, unpaid labour for 24 years.
He was forced to work for around 17 hours every day at their homes in Chatham, Scarborough, Walsall, Northolt and Perivale. The Edets kept notes on the standard of his work, which included rigorous cleaning, caring for their two children and cooking for the family.
They controlled every aspect of his life, from what he could wear to when he could leave the house, and demanded that he only spoke to them in Nigerian, however to the other children solely in English.
The Edets claimed they had adopted him as their son but in reality they forbade him from even eating in the same room as family members. He was not allowed to enter most of the rooms in the house unless it was to clean them, and they made him sleep on a dirty slip of foam on the hallway floor.
They verbally abused him, calling him a “parasite”, and convinced him that if he went to the police, he would be arrested for being an illegal immigrant.
The Edets controlled the victim so effectively that even when they left him alone in the house for weeks at a time, he did not run away.
In December 2013, the Edets returned to Nigeria for Christmas, leaving the victim alone at their home in Perivale for several weeks. Before leaving, they set up a remotely controlled CCTV camera in the hallway so they could monitor him.
The victim, having recently seen media reports about modern slavery, realised the life he was being made to lead was wrong and emailed the charity Hope for Justice from a computer at the house.
Hope for Justice referred the matter to the MPS Trafficking and Kidnap Unit (TKU) on 19 December, and the next day detectives helped him leave and get specialist support.
The unit carried out a lengthy investigation, including a number of sensitive interviews with the victim. They subsequently arrested and charged the Edets on 6 March 2014.
DCI Phil Brewer of the Trafficking and Kidnap Unit, said: “The Edets took self-appointed ownership of the victim. They controlled what he wore, what he did and how he spoke for the majority of his life.
“When the victim left Nigeria, he was a young school boy with aspirations but the Edets abused him until he became timid, nervous and obedient. They conditioned him to the degree that when we visited him at the Perivale address and tried to lead him into the living room to speak, he became visibly shaken at the thought of breaking the Edets’ rules about going into that room. It was only when he went into the kitchen that he was able to relax and speak openly to police.”
“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, CEO at Hope for Justice, said:
“The victim’s story is saddening but, unfortunately, not surprising to me. Hope for Justice identifies cases of human trafficking on a weekly basis; since January our teams have already helped 132 victims here in the UK. He was very courageous to come forward when he did. 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.”
If you are a victim of slavery or have concerns regarding slavery in your neighbourhood, call the Modern Slavery National Trafficking helpline free on 0800 0121 700 or contact them via www.modernslavery.co.uk.
Alternatively, call the police on 999.
Sentencing will take place at Harrow Crown Court on Wednesday, 18 November.”