Melbourne couple sentenced on modern-day slavery charges

A 53-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man received jail sentences today after being convicted of keeping a woman in forced labour at their Mount Waverley home for nearly nine years.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) began investigating the matter in September 2015 after receiving a referral from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (now the Australian Border Force), regarding a woman from India who travelled to Australia on a Tourist visa.

The AFP Human Trafficking Team commenced an investigation, which resulted in slavery charges being laid in June 2016

A comprehensive nine-month investigation by the AFP resulted in the 53-year-old woman and 57-year-old man being charged in June 2016 with possessing a slave, contrary to s270.3(1)(a) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and exercises over a slave any right of ownership, contrary to s270.3(1)(a) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)

On Friday, 23 April 2021, a jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges. Today, 21 July 2021, the 53-year-old woman was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, with parole eligibility in four years.

The 57-year-old man was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, with parole eligibility in three years.

The court heard the couple kept the Indian women in squalid conditions where she was forced to cook, clean, and care for the couple’s children over an eight-year period before she collapsed and was taken to hospital, weighing just 40 kilograms.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the offending was hidden in plain sight.

“The AFP is appealing to any victims, potential witnesses, or communities impacted by human trafficking to know there are pathways to support,” D/Supt Crossling said.

“We want the public to be aware that human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices are happening here in Australia, all too often without anyone in the community knowing.

“Our hope is for every case we investigate, it helps others experiencing similar conditions to speak up and seek our help.

“It is up to all of us to work together to protect people who are vulnerable to the exploitative crimes of modern slavery.”

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