An accountant accused of keeping a Nigerian woman with the mental age of a four-year-old as a domestic slave in Belfast must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.
Refusing bail to 33-year-old Osarobo Izekor, Mr Justice McAlinden described the alleged offence as “the most abhorrent kind imaginable”.
Izekor, with an address at Castlereagh Place in the east of the city, is charged with requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory behaviour.
His pregnant wife, Precious Izekor, 26, was granted bail earlier this month on the same charge.
They allegedly kept the 31-year-old woman in servitude at their home between December 31, 2016 and October 1, 2017.
The couple deny any wrongdoing, claiming they only ever tried to help her settle and obtain work in the UK.
Detectives from the PSNI’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit were called in after the alleged victim told a church friend about how she was brought to Northern Ireland in 2011 to work for another husband and wife.
She claimed that over a five-year period spent with that couple she was beaten, mentally abused and called a slave, the court heard.
According to her account arrangements were then made for her to go and live at the Izekors’ house in 2017.
She believed that she would be paid £350 a month for cooking, cleaning and childcare duties, but claimed instead to have received no cash while her family was sent the equivalent of £21 a month.
During interviews the woman said she feared being sent back to a life of poverty in Nigeria.
She stated that she was not allowed out, was always working, and would be locked in the house when the family went out.
The alleged victim told police she believed she would be given freedom after working for five years.
Prosecution counsel Conor Maguire confirmed the woman is now pregnant herself and living at other facilities.
She has been assessed as having the learning age of a four-year-old, the court heard.
Precious Izekor, who holds dual British and Sierra Leonean nationality, was granted bail amid potential complications while she is pregnant with her third child.
Counsel for her Nigerian husband argued that he too should be released.
Barry Gibson said: “The allegations are rejected, at all times they maintain that they treated (the alleged victim) with the utmost respect.”
He disclosed that Osarobo Izekor is a qualified accountant with post-graduate degrees in global business management obtained in Canada.
However, Mr Justice McAlinden noted that such a professional, educated background would increase the level of culpability if the alleged offences are ultimately proven.
He cited the risk of interference with the case as a reason for denying bail.