A Nigerian-born British nurse, Josephine Iyamu, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison by a Birmingham Crown Court after she was found guilty of trafficking women and teenage girls, mostly from Nigeria, to the UK and forcing them to become sex slaves for her personal gains.
The 54-years-old London nurse who had earlier been found guilty in March, was sentenced on Tuesday after the court heard how she trafficked the vulnerable women and forced them to swear to a “form of voodoo”, was also ordered to repay the sum of £184,000 as restitution.
“The confiscation amount took into account her available assets, which include a large house in Benin City, Nigeria, where she employed household staff.
“If she fails to pay the sum within three months, she will serve an additional two years in prison and still be liable for the money,” a court statement said.
The court also heard how Iyamu subjected her victims to humiliating rituals including forcing them to eat chicken hearts and drink worm-infested blood.
With the sentence, Iyamu has become the first British national to be convicted under the Modern Slavery Act for offences committed overseas in 2018.
Iyamu, a Bermondsey resident, “had her victims make oaths to pay over money during juju rites in which they were told to eat chicken hearts and drink blood containing worms,” the court heard during her trial.
Iyamu’s sex trafficking activities were discovered by German authorities in July 2017 after one of her victims was found working in a brothel in Trier.
Iyamu, also known as Madame Sandra, was tracked down by the British National Crime Agency, who discovered she had built herself as a wealthy and prominent woman in Nigeria.
“She had started a political campaign there, claiming that she wanted to empower women and families.”
“Iyamu enlisted the help of vulnerable women from remote areas, promising them a better life in Europe.”
During a five-year investigation, Kay Mellor of the National Crime Agency said, “She charged them up to 38,000 Euro for enabling their travel and compelled them to work as prostitutes in Germany to pay off their debts.”
“Iyamu’s expenses for travel and properties much surpassed her lawful earnings as a nurse, and our examination into her finances revealed she profited hundreds of thousands of pounds from her criminality,” said the prosecutor.
“Iyamu was calculated, manipulative and motivated by money. Not only is she serving a hefty prison sentence, but she won’t be living a luxury lifestyle when she comes out,” Mellor said after the Tuesday sentencing.