Chingford woman jailed on slavery charges

Mick Ferris
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A woman who held a pensioner in slavery for more than four years has been jailed.

Maria Miller, 65, of Simmons Lane, Chingford, was found guilty of two counts of holding another in slavery or servitude and one count of theft on Friday, June.21.

At Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, August 30, she was sentenced as follows:

1 For holding another in servitude ante February 2015) – three years imprisonment

2 For holding another in servitude post February 2015) – three years imprisonment

3 Theft – one year imprisonment

All sentences will run concurrently.

The court heard that Miller met the victim, now aged 74, outside a pet shop and invited her to volunteer in her charity shop.

In 2012 she persuaded the woman, who has learning difficulties, to move into her home address.

She then made her sleep on the floor and carry out tasks such as weeding the garden or clearing out animal shelters in exchange for meals or coming back inside the house, meaning she was often left outside working until late at night.

Miller also took control of the victim’s bank account, became executor and sole trustee in her will and tried to persuade her to sell a property she owned, as well as refusing her access to a mobile phone, money or access to her own pension.

She also lost a significant amount of weight as Miller often refused to provide meals for a number of days, as well as forcing her to sleep on the floor or in an outhouse.

On June 14, 2016, the victim managed to run away and reported the abuse to police, who began an investigation.

Miller was arrested on July 14, 2016 and released on bail, before being charged on November 16, 2018.

Detective Sergeant James Earle, who led the investigation, said: “Miller targeted one of society’s most vulnerable and the sentence received today reflects the gravity of her actions.

“This was a long and challenging investigation but we are pleased that Miller has now been brought to justice.

“We know that the victim will never forget the years she spent in constant fear but we hope that she has some closure now Miller is behind bars.

“Her bravery in coming forward to police and reliving some of the worst experiences of her life in court is testament to her strength of character and we hope this sends out a message that the MPS will seek to bring the strongest charges for such shocking criminal conduct where appropriate.”

Mick Ferris

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