A Brothel madam who forced women to become sex slaves and made them eat live snakes has been ordered to pay back more than £20,000 of her profits. Lizzy Idahosa, 24, was jailed for eight years in 2014 for trafficking a 23-year-old and a 29-year-old from Nigeria.
She made more than £186,000 out of the two women, who were terrified with black magic and made to see a witch doctor, a court heard. Read more after the cut…
The victims had their pubic hair shaved and were forced to eat live snakes and snails as part of a sinister “juju” ritual. They were then flown to Britain, where they slept with men across the country. Idahosa was found guilty of trafficking the women and was jailed for eight years at Cardiff Crown Court, while her husband Jackson Omoruyi, 41, was sentenced to two years.
Idahosa had profited by £186,400 from her sex ring – but investigators could find only £21,900 in her bank accounts. Judge Tom Crowther ordered Idahosa to pay the cash traced to her accounts – or face a further nine months in prison. During their trial, the court heard that the two women were terrified into doing what they were told because they believed the juju powers would work. They were eventually found by immigration staff at a brothel in Cardiff, where they had been exploited and abused.
Speaking about her horrific ordeal, one 29-year-old victim said: “It was not a big snake, but it was alive. I just closed my eyes and put it in my mouth. “They told me if I messed it up, I would get sent back to Nigeria and Lizzy would kill me. I wanted to stop. I was ashamed of myself and I had no life.”
After arriving in the UK, the women were put to work as prostitutes, working in brothels at massage parlours across England and Wales. They were ordered to hand over the money they earned to Idahosa, believing the black magic curses would make them go insane or die if they refused.
Caroline Rees, prosecuting, told the trial: “The couple were involved in the exploitation of two women brought into the UK from Nigeria to work as prostitutes. “They were bound to this by something called a juju ritual. It was a ceremonial ritual used to full effect to terrify both women into doing what was demanded of them. “It was used to ensure compliance, secrecy, and they believed if they broke the bond dire consequences would follow: illness, madness, infertility or death. “They genuinely believed the powers would work.”
The offences came to light after police arrested a 23-year-old Nigerian woman at the Ambassador Suite brothel in Cardiff, in June 2013. She told officers she had been living rough in Nigeria after her mum died and had wanted to travel to the UK to find her dad. She had then met a woman claiming to be Idahosa’s sister – who promised to make arrangements for her to travel to London. As part of the agreement, she had to take part in the ceremony, before coming to the UK.
Ms Rees said: “She did not know what was expected of her. “She was taken to premises full of women dressed in their underwear. There was no explanation as to what was going on but it soon became clear.”
The woman started to work as a prostitute and was forced to sleep with seven or eight men every day, working in brothels across the UK, including in Cardiff and Swansea. When interviewed, she claimed she had given Idahosa £45,000. The second victim told the court she had paid the defendants £31,400 over two years after working in brothels around the UK. She said she eventually stopped working and changed her sim card so Idahosa could not contact her. But she then received a call from her family in Nigeria.
She told the jury: “I had a call from my mum who told me Lizzy’s people had been to her house and threatened her. “Lizzy said if I did not pay her she would kill my mum and make me go mad.”
Idahosa and Omoruyi were arrested at their home in London and denied any wrongdoing. But police traced a series of bank transfers with Omoruyi acting as a “financial middle man”. Idahosa who is pregnant claimed that she herself had been trafficked into the UK and forced to work as a prostitute. She told the jury she did not know the two victims. Idahosa said she made an oath with her trafficker before leaving Nigeria and was forced to eat the roast heart of a cockerel.
She said: “I wouldn’t do the things they say I did because I’ve been through it.”
The jury heard that cash payments had been deposited into Omoruyi’s account from UK locations including Glasgow, Sheffield and Southampton. He had claimed the money came from his friend and told cops he didn’t know the two women. But Judge Crowther said he was “certain” that Omoruyi knew the money was illegal and where it was coming from. Idahosa was convicted of eight counts including trafficking two women into and around the UK, inciting them to become prostitutes and transferring criminal property.
Omoruyi was convicted of two offences of money laundering. A jury at Cardiff Crown Court took just five hours to find them guilty. Both were remanded in custody today to be sentenced next month, but judge Tom Crowther QC warned them they will face lengthy custodial sentences.
Speaking after the verdicts had been given, Ms Rees said: “This was a despicable and callous crime.”