First ever domestic slavery case is told of bribe claims

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The family of a Nigerian woman who claims a couple kept her as their domestic slave in Belfast were allegedly offered a £15,000 “bribe” to have the complaints dropped, the High Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutors also revealed that the woman, assessed as having the learning age of four, is 12 weeks pregnant.

Details emerged during a bail application by a financial adviser charged with requiring her to perform labour over a nine-month period.

Mother-of-two Precious Izekor, 26, of Castlereagh Place in east Belfast, is accused along with her husband, 33-year-old Nigerian national Osarobo Izekor, of committing the offence in 2016 and 2017.

The couple, who deny the charge, are the first to be prosecuted in Northern Ireland for suspected involvement in domestic servitude.

Detectives from the PSNI’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit were called in after the 30-year-old alleged victim told a church friend about how she was brought to NI in 2011, the court heard.

Iryna Kennedy, prosecuting, claimed the woman cannot read, and was denied access to her passport or visa.

According to her account she worked at two locations as part of a wider family arrangement, believing she would be paid £350 a month for cooking, cleaning and childcare duties.

It was alleged, however, that she was received no cash while her family back in Nigeria 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 said she was not allowed out, she was always working and looking after the older child,” counsel continued. “One more than one occasion Precious would leave the house and lock the door.”

The alleged victim stated that she believed she would be given freedom after working for five years.

Mr Justice Huddleston was also told the woman thought she was going to marry Osarobo Izekor’s cousin.

Barry Gibson, defending, argued that false accusations against his client and her husband have “caused chaos” within a respectable family”.

The judged adjourned the bail application.