A Chingford woman has been found guilty of modern slavery offences following a two-week trial.
Maria Miller, 64, was found guilty of two counts of holding another in slavery or servitude and one count of theft at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 21 June.
The court heard Miller met the victim, who has learning difficulties, while working for an animal charity and quickly befriended her.
In 2012, she persuaded the woman, now aged 74, to move into her home address in Simmons Lane.
As well as taking control of the victim’s bank account and becoming the executor and sole trustee in her will, Miller made her carry out tasks such as weeding the garden or clearing out animal shelters in exchange for meals or being allowed back inside the house. This meant she was often left outside working until late at night.
She also subjected her to several assaults, forced her to sleep on the floor or in an outhouse and went for days without giving her any meals, leading to the victim losing a significant amount of weight.
Miller also refused to allow her access to a mobile phone, money or any access to her own pension.
In June 2016, the victim managed to run away from the address and reported the abuse to police, who began an investigation.
Miller was arrested on 14 July 2016 and released on bail, before being charged on 16 November 2018 and will be sentenced at the same court on 30 July.
Detective Sergeant James Earle, who led the investigation, said:‘I am very pleased that the long investigation into this matter has brought about justice for the victim.
“Miller targeted one of society’s most vulnerable with the motivation of financial gain, and in doing so treated her with an appalling level of inhumaneness.
“The result will never be able to bring back almost five years of the victim’s life, during which she had her independence and liberty taken away from her and lived in almost constant fear, with no say about what she did, whether she worked, where she went, where she slept or what or whether she ate. However, I hope she is able to find closure as a result.
“She is an incredibly strong woman who has shown amazing bravery and resilience in coming forward to police and going through the difficult process of reliving her traumatic experiences in the court room, and she is now thriving in her new found freedom and independence.
“I hope this sends out a message that the MPS will not tolerate such treatment of the vulnerable and will seek to bring the strongest charges for such shocking criminal conduct where appropriate.
“I would also like to put on record my thanks for those from our partner agencies who assisted in the investigation and were integral in bringing Miller to justice.”Tags: Chingford, Waltham Forest
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