Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 14:29 UK

Unpaid servant lived in cupboard

A woman who smuggled an unpaid servant into the UK and forced her to sleep in a cupboard has been jailed for two and a half years at Harrow Crown Court.

Mary Tontoh, 61, of Wembley, north London, used promises of a well-paid job and a university education to lure Elizabeth Adone, 20, from Ghana.

But for two years she was forced to work as a domestic servant without pay.

Tontoh was found guilty in June of assisting unlawful entry into the UK but cleared of people trafficking.

Tontoh was also convicted of possessing a fake Nigerian passport.

During the trial the court heard how Miss Adone cooked and cleaned as well as looked after Tontoh's adopted nine-year-old son while she was in Ghana.

I had the mattress in there and some of my things there. I could sleep in there but I had to fold my legs
Elizabeth Adone

Miss Adone told jurors she had to wash clothes by hand and scrounge for food and clothes from friends and neighbours as she had no money.

"My family were happy when I was coming here because they thought I would continue my schooling and get a job," she said.

For several months she lived in a tiny cupboard while her boss, who owns a large house in a rich suburb of the Ghanaian capital Accra, denied her any wages.

Describing her living conditions, she said: "I had the mattress in there and some of my things there. I could sleep in there but I had to fold my legs."

Sentencing, Judge Nic Madge said: "The extent of the exploitation was shown by the fact that for the final months you told Elizabeth Adone to sleep in the meter cupboard.

"On top of this you also arranged day-time cleaning jobs for her, one at Willesden bus garage."

The victim is still living in the UK and a decision about her future has yet to be made.




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