Trafficked Nigerian women feared death by juju 'magic'
Two Nigerian women trafficked into the UK sex trade were put through 'witchcraft' ordeals to ensure they obeyed, Cardiff Crown Court has heard.
The women, in their 20s, say they had to drink dirty water, eat a snake or snail, and had their hair shaved.
It is claimed they worked in brothels to repay co-defendant Lizzy Idahosa £50,000 for travel and false documents.
Ms Idahosa, 24, denies seven charges including trafficking for prostitution and moving criminal property.
Her partner Jackson Omoruyi, 41, denies three charges of inciting the women to become prostitutes and transferring criminal property.
The women, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the "juju" ritual - sometimes known as voodoo or magic - left them fearing illness, madness, infertility and death.
They genuinely believed the powers would work, the court heard.
One woman explained how she had been living rough in Nigeria after her mother died when she was 10 years old and was offered the chance to go to the UK, where she believed her father was living.
She was helped to get false documents to travel to the UK by a woman she was told was the sister of one of the defendants.
She met up with one of the defendants when she finally arrived in London, and was taken to premises in King Cross where there were lots of women in their underwear.
Ms Idahosa then took her to a similar set-up in Ilford where the witness had sex with a man for money, the court heard.
The court was told the woman often had sex with seven or eight men a day and was moved around a number of brothels in Croydon, Stevenage, Brighton, Swansea and Cardiff.
Sometimes she would meet Ms Idahosa to hand over cash while at other times the defendant would text details of an account for her to pay in money.
The woman told police she could have left the brothels at any time but felt compelled by the juju ceremonies she had been put through, while Ms Idahosa often used violence against her, she said.
The second woman said she was approached in Nigeria by a woman claiming to be the defendant's mother and asked if she wanted to go to London and work in a shop.
She was also sworn to secrecy through a juju rite, the prosecution alleges.
The ritual involved having to eat a snail and an egg together with dust.
Caroline Rees, prosecuting, outlined how the woman was told to tell border control at Heathrow she was a lesbian who was fleeing persecution in Nigeria.
After escaping secure immigration accommodation she contacted Ms Idahosa - to be told she owed a debt of £50,000 to the defendant.
Ms Idahosa had threatened her family in Nigeria would be harmed if she spoke out, the court heard.
The prosecution maintains the banks accounts whose details Ms Idahosa texted were owned by Mr Omoruyi and he often then transferred money to his co-defendant.
The two defendants were arrested in April 2014 at a London address where police found a number of phones with texts that matched the bank details, as well as two pages from a newspaper advertising adult services.
Ms Idahosa denies all the charges and says she is a victim of trafficking and she left the sex trade in 2011.
She denies a total of seven charges relating to trafficking two women into and around the UK, inciting them to become prostitutes and transferring criminal property.
Mr Omoruyi denies three charges of inciting the women to become prostitutes and transferring criminal property.