Nottingham

Couple beat slave and forced her to sleep in duck pen

Vicki Jepson and Gavin Pascoe Image copyright Police issue
Image caption Jepson and Pascoe targeted the victim because of her vulnerability, police said

A couple who enslaved a woman with learning difficulties, beating her and forcing her to sleep in a duck pen, have been jailed.

The 24-year-old was "assaulted daily" by Gavin Pascoe and Vicki Jepson at their home in Aspley, Nottingham, where she was kept for five months.

The city's crown court heard on Friday Jepson also stole the woman's benefits.

Pascoe, 37, was jailed for four years and Jepson, 29, for two-and-a-half years.

The court was told how the woman was taken to the couple's house in Rosslyn Drive in August 2014 by someone she met online.

Using threats of violence against the victim and her family, they kept her prisoner.

She was made to sleep on the kitchen floor or in a duck pen, while during the day she was subjected to beatings, threats and intimidation.

If she refused to do as she was told, she was soaked with cold water. On one occasion Pascoe attacked her with a hockey stick, the court heard.

She suffered a broken wrist and ribs and a medical exam found scarring on her back, thighs and arms.

Victim's 'tremendous courage'

The victim escaped when a relative of Pascoe's visited and told her to get out. She ran to a neighbour's house and the police were called.

Pascoe pleaded guilty to forced labour, one count of grievous bodily harm and committing actual bodily harm on at least 10 occasions.

Jepson admitted forced labour, theft and committing actual bodily harm on at least five occasions.

A friend of the couple, Andrew Pepper, of Amesbury Circus, Broxtowe, was also involved in the abuse and admitted two counts of ABH and five counts of common assault.

He will be sentenced on 4 January.

Det Cons Claire Reilly from Nottinghamshire Police said: "The victim was targeted because of her vulnerability and became trapped by people who treated her as their slave.

"We were shocked when we met her as she was clearly unwell after suffering at the hands of these three.

"Despite her ordeal, she has demonstrated tremendous courage in helping us to build this case and to support the prosecution.

"It is hard to believe this happened in a normal house, in a normal street, where families live. They hid in plain sight."

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