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Couple Convicted Of Enslaving Man In Their Home For 24 Years

Emmanuel and Antan Edet kept a Nigerian man as a domestic slave since he was 13 years old, a court has heard.

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A couple have been convicted of keeping a man as a slave in their north London home for almost a quarter of a century.

Dr Emmanuel Edet, a 61-year-old phlebotomist, and his wife Antan, 51, a senior nursing sister at a hospital, were on Wednesday found guilty of holding a person in slavery or servitude, child cruelty, and assisting unlawful immigration.

Metropolitan police said in a statement that the couple, from Perivale in northwest London, took their victim, Ofonime Sunday Inuk, from Nigeria to the UK without his parents' permission in 1989 when he was aged just 13.

The trial, at Harrow crown court, had heard that Inuk had agreed to be couple's "house boy" in return for education and payment, but instead he was made to work for 17 hours a day as a domestic slave at the Edets' houses in Kent, North Yorkshire, the West Midlands, and London.

He was told to sleep on the floor and could only enter certain rooms to clean them.

Police said: "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" including his clothing and whether he could leave the house. They seized his passport and set up CCTV in their house to monitor him.

He was called a "parasite" and told that if he went to the police he would be reported as an illegal immigrant.

Even when left alone in the Edets' Perivale house for weeks at a time, he did not try to escape.

However, over Christmas 2013, while the Edets were away, Inuk read media reports on modern slavery in the UK and realised they described his own situation.

He emailed the charity Hope for Justice, who referred the case to the Met on 19 December. After an investigation, and interviews with Inuk, the Edets were arrested and charged on 6 March 2014.

Inuk is now 40 and has started a new life, spending his time working and studying.

DCI Phil Brewer, from the Met's trafficking and kidnap unit, said that Inuk's captors had made him "timid, nervous, and obedient".

"When the victim left Nigeria, he was a young schoolboy 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," he said.

"It was only when he went into the kitchen that he was able to relax and speak openly to police."

Ben Cooley, CEO of Hope for Justice, said that his charity has helped more than 130 victims of slavery in the UK so far this year.

"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 said.

"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."

Emmanuel and Antan Edet will be sentenced at Harrow crown court on 7 December.

The Home Office released a study in November 2014 claiming that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of slavery in the UK.

The Modern Slavery Act was passed in March this year and increased the maximum sentence for slavery and people trafficking from 14 years to life. Authorities are now also permitted to seize people's assets to repay the victims in compensation.

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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