'Juju' sex trafficker Lizzy Idahosa jailed for eight years

Lizzy Idahosa and partner Jackson Omoruyi Image copyright CROWN COPYRIGHT
Image caption Lizzy Idahosa and partner Jackson Omoruyi denied any wrongdoing

A woman who was found guilty of trafficking two women from Nigeria to the UK to work in the sex trade has been jailed for eight years.

Lizzy Idahosa, 24, arranged for the women to be put through a ritualistic "juju" ceremony in Nigeria to make them afraid of disobeying her.

The judge at Cardiff Crown Court said she she kept them in "a kind of hell".

Her partner Jackson Omoruyi, 41, found guilty of money laundering offences, was jailed for two years.

Idahosa - who is heavily pregnant with Omoruyi's baby, and already has a young child with him - was found guilty of trafficking women to and around the UK after a trial last month.

A jury also found her guilty of inciting prostitution and money laundering.

Infertility fears

During the trial, the jury heard the trafficked women worked in brothels to repay Idahosa £50,000 for travel from Nigeria and false documents.

Both victims said that before travelling to London on the promise of a better life, they had been subjected to 'juju' rituals in which they ate snails and snakes, had their hair shaved, drank dirty water and were cut with a razor.

The victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the rituals - sometimes known as voodoo or magic - left them fearing illness, madness, infertility and death.

Once in the UK, they were moved around a number of brothels in Croydon, Stevenage, Brighton, Swansea and Cardiff and had sex with up to seven or eight men a day to pay off their "debts".

Home Office officials and police eventually found one of the women working at a brothel in Cardiff in June 2013, and they quickly discovered she was a victim of trafficking.

The other woman was later persuaded to talk about her experiences.

Officers from the Home Office criminal investigation team arrested Idahosa and Omoruyi in a property in Lewisham, south London, in April this year.

'Mental terror'

As he sentenced Idahosa, Judge Tom Crowther QC told her: "You were the prime mover in this scheme.

"You targeted vulnerable young women and kept them in a kind of hell.

"You forced them to pay an arbitrary debt with their bodies day in day out. And you made significant sums from them."

He added: "They lived under mortal terror of breaking these promises."

In total, Idahosa was given sentences of eight years, five years, seven years and two and a half years for her crimes - all to run concurrently.

Omoruyi was sentenced to two years and 18 months, also to run concurrently.

Judge Crowther said both defendants will serve half their jail sentences.

'Victims' resolve'

Speaking after the court case, Nicola Rees, senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wales complex casework unit, said the sentencing "brings to a close a disturbing case involving the exploitation of two vulnerable victims".

"We know that traffickers specifically target those in positions of vulnerability," she said.

"I applaud the resolve of the two victims in this case, who were able to take active steps to break free from the abusive situation they were in."

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