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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Woman 'kept as naked work slave'
A woman was beaten and forced to work naked as a domestic slave by her sister-in-law, a court heard.

Veronica Sandeman, 26, claimed she had been assaulted by Antonia Pearson-Gaballonie over several years.

Mrs Pearson-Gaballonie, of New Lane, Acomb, York, denies false imprisonment, making a threat to kill and assault.

Her husband Neil Pearson, 35, of the same address, denies aiding and abetting her to commit an assault. Both are on trial at York Crown Court.

The jury heard Miss Sandeman appeared at her friend Amanda Palmer's house one night and claimed she had been beaten by Mrs Pearson-Gaballonie.

'Absolute wreck'

Mrs Palmer told the court: "She could hardly speak. She was just an absolute wreck."

She told the jury how Miss Sandeman appeared "petrified" at her back door and described to her how she had been beaten with a rolling pin and belt.

"The first thing she said was: 'Can I come in because Toni has tried to kill me?'"

She added: "She looked skeletal. Her skin seemed to be hanging from her frame. She was absolutely tiny."

A policeman, who was called to the house, told the jury Miss Sandeman looked "very emaciated" and was cowering in the corner in the foetal position.

Bruises spotted

Mrs Palmer befriended Miss Sandeman on the school run and began noticing bruises on her arms and face.

She told her she got them during "rough and tumble" with her sister-in-law's children, who she used to drop off at the school.

On 28 December 2004, she appeared at Mrs Palmer's house distressed, covered in bruises and told her of the alleged abuse.

Mrs Palmer took photos of her injuries, called the police and then went with her to York District Hospital, the jury was told.

Earlier, the jury was told of a "pattern of domestic slavery". At one point Miss Sandeman was forced by Mrs Pearson-Gaballonie to clean the house completely naked, they heard.

The trial continues.

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