GUILTY: Couple who kidnapped boy, 13, and used him as slave for 24 years
A couple kidnapped a 13-year-old boy and used him as a slave for almost a quarter of a century, making him work for 24 hours straight and forcing him to sleep on a piece of foam on the floor, a court heard.
Dr Emmanuel Edet, aged 61, and his wife Antan, 58, of Perivale, north-west London were today found guilty of holding a person in slavery, child cruelty, and assisting unlawful immigration.
They snatched the boy from his family in Nigeria in 1989 and smuggled him into the UK without their permission, telling him he would be their “house boy” and would be paid and educated.
But in reality, he was forced to work for at least 17 hours a day at their homes in Chatham, Scarborough, Walsall, Northolt and Perivale in west London, cleaning, cooking and looking after the Edets’ two children.
Phlebotomist Dr Edet and senior nursing sister Antan, both of Haymill Close, Perivale, claimed they had adopted him as their son – but it soon emerged that they would verbally abuse him and call him a “parasite”, had banished him from most rooms in the home unless it was to clean them, and forced him to sleep on a slab of dirty foam in the hallway.
They even set up CCTV to spy on him and ensure he obeyed their rules while they were away, and told him that if he ever went to the police, he would be arrested for being an illegal immigrant.
He was so frightened of them that he did not run away even when left alone, the court heard.
It was only when he saw media reports about modern slavery that he realised what was happening was wrong, and secretly e-mailed charity Hope for Justice.
After the couple was convicted at Harrow Crown Court, Det Ch Insp Phil Brewer, of the Metropolitan Police’s trafficking and kidnap unit, said since being freed last year the victim was now living a “new life” in the UK, with a job, a home and had even started studying.
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 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.
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.