A brothel madam who used voodoo curses to force young girls to become sex slaves and made them eat live snakes has been ordered to pay back more than £20,000 out of her profits.
Lizzy Idahosa, 24, made more than £186,000 out of the Nigerian women, who were terrified with black magic and made to see a witch doctor for a sinister ‘juju’ ceremony, a court heard.
The two victims, aged 23 and 29, had their pubic hair shaved and were forced to eat live snakes and snails as part of the ritual before being flown to Britain where they slept with men across the country.
Idahosa was found guilty of trafficking the women at Cardiff Crown Court and was jailed for eight years in November 2014 – while her husband Jackson Omoruyi, 41, was sentenced to two years.
A Proceeds of Crime hearing revealed that Idahosa had profited by £186,400 from her sex ring.
But prosecutor Eugene Egan told Cardiff Crown Court that investigators could find only £21,900 in Idahosa’s 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.
The pair were eventually found by immigration staff at a brothel in Cardiff and the court heard they had been exploited and abused in the most brutal manner.
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 if 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.’
When the women arrived in the UK they were put to work as prostitutes, working in brothels at massage parlours across England and Wales.
They were told they had to give all the money they earned to Idahosa, and believed the black magic curses would make them go insane or die if they refused.
‘The couple were involved in the exploitation of two women brought into the UK from Nigeria to work as prostitutes,’ said Caroline Rees, prosecuting, during the trial.
‘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 mother died and had wanted to travel to the UK to find her father.
She had then met a woman, claiming to be Idahosa’s sister, who promised to make arrangements for her to travel to London, and as part of the agreement had to take part in the ceremony.
‘She did not know what was expected of her,’ said Ms Rees, who said the woman had been able to pass through immigration at Heathrow.
‘She was taken to a 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 have sexual intercourse 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 in Cardiff, Swansea, Barking and East Croydon, and said she had worked in South Wales for a year and eight months.
The woman, who like her fellow victim cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had stopped working and changed her sim card so Idahosa could not contact her.
However, within a month she received a phone call from her mother in Nigeria.
‘I had a call from my mum who told me Lizzy’s people had been to her house and threatened her,’ the victim told the jury.
‘Lizzy said if I did not pay her she would kill my mum and make me go mad.’
Idahosa and Omoruyi, who were arrested at their home in London, denied any wrong doing.
But police checked their bank accounts and found a series of transfers with Omoruyi acting as a ‘financial middle man’.
Idahosa had denied forcing the women to take part in a black magic ceremony, but 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 women had been trafficked.
‘It was only when I told them I was trafficked into the country that I found out they were trafficked,’ she said.
Idahosa, who is heavily pregnant, 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 was told that cash payments of several hundred pounds a time had been deposited into Omoruyi’s account from locations all over the country, including Glasgow, Sheffield and Southampton.
He had claimed that money came from his friend.
‘I am the kind of person who likes clothes and shoes and I’m known for that – I like to find bargains,’ he said.
‘It is not that it is any fraud money or anything. My account has not been used for anything like that.’
During an interview with police, he said: ‘I am here to say I do not even know the people you are talking about – I have never seen them.
‘I have never involved myself in that kind of activity in this country, even before this country. I have not and I would not,’ he had claimed.
Christopher Drew, representing Omoruyi, of London, said: ‘Since coming to this country, he has demonstrated a willingness to work honestly.’
But Judge Crowther said he was ‘certain’ that Omoruyi knew the money was illegal and where it was coming from.
Idahosa was convicted of a total 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.