A respected gynaecologist and his wife enslaved a “houseboy” at their home for 24 years, forcing him to carry out menial tasks for 17 hours a day and monitoring his movements using a security camera.
Dr Emmanuel Edet, 61, and his wife, Antan, 58, a senior NHS nurse at Ealing hospital, were convicted by a jury of bringing the teenage boy illegally into Britain at the age of 14 and putting him to work as an unpaid cleaner, cook, odd-job-man and carer for their two children.
As the family moved around the country with increasingly well-paid jobs for Dr Edet, their victim – Ofonime Sunday Edet, now aged 40 – was forced to sleep on the hallway floor of their homes even after their children had grown up.
The couple, originally from Nigeria, put their two sons through university but prevented the “houseboy” from going to school, hid his passport and stopped him from having friends. They exerted a powerful psychological hold over their slave who was allowed to leave the house to go shopping and perform other menial tasks but was warned he would be deported as an illegal immigrant if he ever went to the police.
When the victim left Nigeria, he was a young boy with aspirations but the Edets abused him until he became timid, nervous and obedient
Their victim made a bid for freedom in 2004 and went to a police station – but was sent away by a civilian member of staff with only a lost property form for his missing passport.
His ordeal finally ended in 2013 after he contacted an anti-trafficking charity using a computer at the house in Perivale, west London, after hearing allegations of modern-day slavery discussed on the radio.
Detective Chief Inspector Phil Brewer of Scotland Yard’s trafficking and kidnap unit said: “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.”
The Edets had claimed they had adopted him as their son but he had effectively been written out of the family’s life. He was shunned and forced to eat his meals alone.
Detectives investigating the case found 20 albums filled with 800 photographs of the family, but Ofonime featured in only four. One of them showed him pedalling a boat at Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire for other members of the family in his only known outing with them.
He finally agreed to speak with police while the Edets were in Nigeria, having rigged up the CCTV system to ensure they could monitor him from anywhere in the world. He left the house with only a small carrier bag containing his worldly possessions and an inability to make decisions after 24 years being told what to do. He now has a job, his own home and is studying, said police.
Dr Edet – who has written works on child welfare and has worked for Surrey County Council – and his wife were convicted of slavery, child cruelty and immigration offences. They will be sentenced on Wednesday at Harrow Crown Court.
As published in The Independent
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