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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Voodoo threat nurse faces bid to increase her sentence over trafficking offences

Written by Cathy Gordon

A London-based nurse who used voodoo threats to traffick vulnerable women from Nigeria to Germany to work as prostitutes faces the possibility of an increase in her 14-year prison sentence.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland is going to the Court of Appeal on Thursday to challenge the jail term handed out to Josephine Iyamu.

Mr Buckland will urge leading judges in London to find that the sentence imposed at Birmingham Crown Court in July is too low and should be increased.

Liberia-born Iyamu (pictured), who was made a British citizen in 2009 having been allowed to stay in the UK due to her nursing qualifications, organised the travel of five women from Nigeria to Germany.

The 51-year-old, formerly of Wilson Grove, Bermondsey, south London, is the first person to be prosecuted in the UK for arranging or facilitating travel for sexual exploitation of victims with no connection to Britain.

Iyamu was found guilty at the end of a 10-week trial of five offences under the Modern Slavery Act, and also of perverting the course of justice while on remand by arranging for relatives of the complainants in Nigeria to be arrested.

Passing sentence, Judge Richard Bond told the married nurse that her "vile" offences had left the women in fear of their lives.

The judge said she would have been fully aware of the dangers involved in a four-week land journey across the Sahara to Tripoli in Libya, followed by a sea voyage on inflatable boats.

The court heard during the trial that Iyamu made her victims swear oaths to hand over money during "juju" ceremonies which saw them ordered to eat chicken hearts, drink blood containing worms, and endure powder being rubbed into cuts.

The prosecution said it was clear that Iyamu, known as "Madam Sandra", had travelled extensively across Europe and into Africa on a regular basis to meet victims.

Defence counsel John Benson QC told the court that Iyamu - the daughter of a politician - had "lost everything" as a result of her conviction, including her hope of pursuing a political career in Nigeria.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) National Crime Agency / PA Wire.