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Nurse who was jailed in landmark slavery case sees her sentence increased

A London-based nurse who was jailed for trafficking Nigerian women into Europe where they were forced into sex work has had her sentence increased to 18 years.

Josephine Iyamu, 52, became the first British national to be convicted under the Modern Slavery Act for offences committed overseas at Birmingham Crown Court on 28 June 2018.

The conviction followed a lengthy investigation undertaken by the National Crime Agency, working in co-operation with German police.

She was arrested by NCA officers after landing at Heathrow airport on a flight from Lagos on 24 August 2017.

Iyamu was originally jailed for 14 years but, following a reference by the Solicitor General which was heard yesterday at the Court of Appeal this was increased to 18 years.

On increasing her sentence, Lord Justice Davis yesterday said:

“This was very very grave offending and Iyamu’s role was found to be a leading one.

“She made considerable financial gain from her five victims whose vulnerabilities she exploited. They were exposed to appalling suffering and risks, including dangerous trafficking routes and threats towards them and their families.

“Iyamu has shown no remorse and is still denying these offences, however it is crystal clear that her role was one of the highest culpability and the highest harm.”

NCA deputy director Tom Dowdall yesterday said:

“This was a truly horrendous case where a nurse carried out humiliating rituals on her vulnerable victims in a bid to exert power over them. She then forced them to work in brothels, and profited from that exploitation.

“The charges she faced were extremely serious, and I think that is reflected in the increased sentence handed down by the court today.”

The NCA’s investigation into Iyamu began in July 2017 following information from the German Police who had identified one of her victims working in a brothel in Trier.

After locating Iyamu, AKA Madame Sandra, in London, NCA investigators worked with the Nigerian Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to look into her activities in Nigeria.

Enquiries identified that she had positioned herself as a rich and powerful woman in Nigeria and had launched a political campaign through which she claimed she wanted to empower women and families.

Using her status, Iyamu recruited vulnerable women from rural villages and promised them a better life in Europe. She charged them up to 38,000 Euro for facilitating their travel and forced them to work as prostitutes in Germany to pay off their debts.

Before they left, she put her victims through a Juju ceremony - a humiliating ritual designed to exert control over them. The women believed serious harm would come to them or their families if they broke their oath to Iyamu or tried to escape.

At her trial five of her victims gave evidence via video link.

They detailed the horrendous conditions they endured whilst travelling over-land across Africa, and then by boat to Italy before flying to Germany using false ID documents provided to them by Iyamu’s associates.

On 28 June 2018 at Birmingham Crown Court she was found guilty of five counts of facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation and one count of attempting to prevent the course of justice.


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