‘Voodoo magic’ nurse guilty of trafficking Nigerian women to work as prostitutes.
A London nurse trafficked five women to Germany to work as prostitutes after forcing them to eat chicken hearts and drink worms and blood during “juju” rituals.
Josephine Iyamu, 51, had a “crushing psychological control” over her victims, charging them between €30,000 (£26,400) and €38,000 (£33,400) to traffic them to Germany, where they were met by an associate and forced into brothels to pay the money back, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
The victims, who said they had been too afraid to challenge her or fail to pay her the tens of thousands she demanded, had powder rubbed into cuts during the rituals and were bound by an oath of loyalty on pain of death.
The court heard how Iyamu had a network of people who helped traffic the women from Nigeria to Libya – across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy and then up to Germany.
A British citizen since 2009, Iyamu declared an NHS agency nurse income of £14,500 in 2016/17, but following her arrest last year, police found she had spent thousands of pounds in air travel and had large house in Benin with servants quarters.
Iyamu, formerly of Wilson Grove, Bermondsey, south London, was convicted on Thursday of five counts of arranging or facilitating travel for sexual exploitation after the 10-week trial.
Jurors also convicted the Liberia-born British citizen of perverting the course of justice by arranging for relatives of the complainants in Nigeria to be arrested
Her husband, 60-year-old Efe Ali-Imaghodor, was acquitted of doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice.
Iyamu is believed to be the first person to be convicted under Modern Slavery Act laws passed in 2015, allowing prosecutions of British citizens for sexual trafficking taking place overseas.
Prosecutor Simon Davis had described to jurors during the trial how Iyamu had trafficked the women.
He said: “She was there on the mobile phone along the way but her real role was at the end of their journey – when it came to getting money from the women and making a profit out of their exploitation.
“The debts incurred by the women were enforced through fear.
“Iyamu and others involved with her were willing to put these women at risk of serious injury and or death as they made their journey from Nigeria to Europe.”
Sentencing will take place next Wednesday.