Iyamu, R v, Court of Appeal - Criminal Division, September 20, 2018, [2018] EWCA Crim 2166

Resolution Date:September 20, 2018
Issuing Organization:Criminal Division
Actores:Iyamu, R v


Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWCA Crim 2166

Case No: 201803156/A3





Royal Courts of Justice


London, WC2A 2LL

Date: Thursday, 20 September 2018

B e f o r e:




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Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of

Epiq Europe Ltd 165 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2DY

Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Email: rcj@epiqglobal.co.uk

(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)

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Mr R Buckland QC (Solicitor General) and Mr J Evans appeared on behalf of the Attorney General

Mr J Benson QC appeared on behalf of the Offender

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J U D G M E N T (As Approved by the Court)WARNING: Reporting restrictions may apply to the contents transcribed in this document, particularly if the case concerned a sexual offence or involved a child. Reporting restrictions prohibit the publication of the applicable information to the public or any section of the public, in writing, in a broadcast or by means of the internet, including social media. Anyone who receives a copy of this transcript is responsible in law for making sure that applicable restrictions are not breached. A person who breaches a reporting restriction is liable to a fine and/or imprisonment. For guidance on whether reporting restrictions apply, and to what information, ask at the court office or take legal advice.



  1. This is an application by the Solicitor General seeking leave to challenge a sentence on the ground that it is unduly lenient. The offences in question primarily arise under the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The facts of this case, which we will come on to summarise, wholly explain the need for such a piece of legislation; legislation which by the uncompromising words of its very title connotes the stark criminality of the offending concerned, where proved. We grant leave in this case.

    Background facts

  2. The background facts are these.

  3. The offender Josephine Iyamu is 51 years old, having been born in 1966. After a trial lasting many weeks at the Crown Court at Birmingham, before His Honour Judge Bond and a jury, the offender was on 28 June 2018 convicted of five offences of arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, contrary to section 2 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. In addition, she was also convicted of one offence of perverting the course of justice.

  4. On 4 July 2018 she was sentenced to a total sentence of 14 years' imprisonment. In respect of counts 1 to 5 on the indictment there were concurrent sentences of 13 years' imprisonment on each count; in respect of count 6 there was a consecutive sentence of one year's imprisonment.

  5. The position is this. The offender had been born in Monrovia, Liberia. She subsequently acquired citizenship of Nigeria and in 2009 she also acquired British citizenship. She was a nurse and qualified to act as a midwife. She and her husband owned a property in Bermondsey in London and she also had another property in Benin City in Nigeria.

  6. So far as counts 1 to 5 are concerned, the offences took place between 1 May 2016 and 25 August 2017 and concerned five victims. Those five victims were all identified and traced by the authorities. Victim 1 may be styled as "S"; victim 2 may be styled as "A"; victim 3 may be styled as "K"; victim 4 may be styled as "F"; and victim 5 may be styled as "O". In addition, another woman, who may be styled victim six for present purposes, was referred to by the other victims but was never traced.

  7. The victims were all from the Benin City region in the Edo State of Nigeria. They were all aged in their twenties. They were from poor and in some cases rural backgrounds. They were all from large families. Each of them saw the prospect of travelling to Europe as offering the means of financial salvation for themselves and their families. In his sentencing remarks the judge was to describe the victims as "young, naive, trusting and desperate women who only wanted to make their own lives and the lives of their immediate families better."

  8. As had been the Crown case, the offender was known to arrange travel to Europe. The victims were either introduced to her or met her by chance. They spoke to her about travelling to Europe and the prospect of working there. With the exception of the first victim, S, all of the victims were made aware that they were going to be working as prostitutes in Europe. As the judge found, S only found out about the work she was going to undertake when she finally arrived in Germany. None of the victims, it should be added, had worked as prostitutes in Nigeria.

  9. The victims travelled in groups of three on two separate occasions. The first group of three (that is to say victims 1, 2 and the victim styled as victim 6) began their journey before June 2016. The second group (victims 3, 4 and 5) began their journey after September 2016.

  10. A notable and particular feature of this particular case is that before they started on their travels the offender had made the women attend the address of a priest who practised the art of juju. The victims were to give evidence to the effect that they were in awe of such practices and felt wholly bound by the ceremonies, oaths and curses which were placed upon them.

  11. Evidence in fact was given during the trial by an expert witness, Dr Hermione Harris, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Dr Harris specialises in the field of witchcraft and juju, both of which are intrinsic to the Nigerian world-view, as it was said.

  12. In summary, Dr Harris gave evidence to the effect that first the victims and their traffickers came from Edo State in Nigeria, an area well-known for trafficking. Second, the family situation of the victims, together with their naivety, lack of education and absence of opportunity, made them susceptible to promises made by traffickers. Third, Edo State and its capital Benin City were renowned for pre-trafficking juju rituals. Fourth, the victims underwent such rituals and were bound to secrecy and obedience on pain of misfortune and death. Fifth, juju does not consist of isolated magical practices; it is part of a Nigerian world-view and part of Nigerian culture. Sixth, each element in the ritual carried a specific meaning which was relevant to the control of the victims. Seventh, the victims felt bound by the oath which they had taken and would fear the curse which would follow if they broke their oath. This therefore provided a significant tie to the traffickers. Eighth, the victims were regularly reminded of the oath which they had taken, which operated as an effective form of remote control over them. Ninth, fear of the oath and consequent curse could render a victim unable to provide information to persons in authority.

  13. As we gather, Dr Harris also gave evidence about the means of travel of those trafficked from Nigeria to Europe: this frequently following the route that was in fact undertaken by the victims in this case.

  14. So far as the victims in the present case were concerned, they stayed at the address of a juju priest for upwards of one week. Cuts were administered to their backs, chest, shoulders, legs and wrists with a razor blade which caused permanent scarring. Their wounds were then filled with black powder made up ingredients such as alligator powder. The insertion of ingredients to their bodies further increased the degree of control that the offender would have had over them. Further, at the end of their stay with the priest, the victims were made to participate in a ceremony which amongst other things required them to eat the heart of a cockerel. The ceremony took place whilst they were naked and vulnerable. After the ceremony, the offender demanded photographs of the victims, together with samples of their head hair and pubic hair. This was all part of the juju oath and reinforced the control that the offender exercised over them. In his sentencing remarks, the...

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