Pastor jailed for trafficking African child 'slaves'

Lucy Adeniji (credit: Glenn Copus)

Lucy Adeniji was jailed after trafficking children for use as domestic servants (credit: Glenn Copus)

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A church pastor has been jailed for 11 and a half years after being found guilty of trafficking children into the UK for use as domestic "slaves" at her home in Barking, east London.

Lucy Adeniji brought two children and a 21-year-old woman to the UK from Africa illegally and used them as servants.

She was convicted of 17 different counts at Isleworth Crown Court.

The mother-of-five is the first person to be jailed for trafficking children into the UK for domestic servitude.

In a case that has been likened to modern-day slavery, Adeniji smuggled the three victims into Britain on false passports, and used them as servants at her home in Ray Gardens, Barking.

An illegal immigrant herself, Adeniji, 44 - originally from Nigeria - had told the victims' parents they would have a better life in the UK, but instead viciously beat them if they failed to please her.

Benefits inquiry

The abuse only came to light when one of the victims escaped from Adeniji's home after being beaten.

Adeniji was convicted last month of assault, child cruelty and facilitating illegal entry into the UK of a child.

She also admitted six counts of obtaining false passports for herself and her own children and two counts of facilitating illegal entry.

Adeniji faces a separate investigation into money she claimed in benefits for her own children.

Det Insp Gordon Valentine, of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Paladin - which targets child trafficking - said the case could be the tip of the iceberg.

"The people who are using this form of slavery in their households know it is wrong," he said.

"This case is very important because it shows victims that we can have successful prosecutions and that they can find justice."

The case has echoes of the maltreatment of Victoria Climbié who died at the hands of her guardian, Marie Therese Kouao. She and her boyfriend Carl Manning were found guilty of Victoria's murder in 2003.

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