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Last Updated: Monday, 6 November 2006, 14:43 GMT
Woman jailed in naked slave case
Antonia Pearson-Gaballonie
Pearson-Gaballonie was "callous and brutal", the court heard
A mother-of-six from York has been jailed for seven years for turning her sister-in-law into a domestic slave.

Veronica Sandeman, 26, originally from Dundee, was forced to work naked and beg for food, York Crown Court heard.

Antonia Pearson-Gaballonie, of New Lane, Acomb, York, committed "callous and brutal acts" and was "manipulative and cunning", said the judge.

She had earlier been found guilty of false imprisonment, making threats to kill and causing actual bodily harm.

Her partner Neil Pearson, 35, was jailed for two years for aiding and abetting an assault.

How one person can behave to another with such cruelty is very hard to contemplate - but you did
Judge Paul Hoffman

Giving evidence in court, Miss Sandeman told the court Pearson helped his wife to savagely beat her at Christmas 2004.

She said he gave his wife a belt to beat her with and held her arms while his wife hacked her hair off and jabbed at her face with scissors.

The Recorder of York Judge Paul Hoffman said Pearson-Gaballonie had subjected her sister-in-law to a two-year period of systematic abuse.

Much of the abuse had been carried out while the victim was falsely imprisoned and forced to work naked under the gaze of Pearson and the couple's children.

The judge also said she had gone to great lengths to avoid the trial, including making an attempt on her life, and even initially refusing to enter the dock for the sentencing hearing on Monday.

Veronica Sandeman
Miss Sandeman was kept as a house slave for two years

He said: "You have been callous and particularly brutal to your sister-in-law who was vulnerable and dependent upon you.

"You started off by deliberately isolating her from her parents, then had complete dominion over her. She became an unpaid skivvy.

"There came a time when you systematically ill-treated and beat her.

"How one person can behave to another with such cruelty, it's very hard to contemplate, but you did, and much of this at a time when you falsely imprisoned her."

The assaults dated from New Year's Eve 2002 until Christmas Day 2004.

'Absolute wreck'

The court heard Miss Sandeman finally fled to the nearby home of Amanda Palmer - a friend she met while taking Pearson-Gaballonie's children to school - on 28 December 2004.

Mrs Palmer described her as an "absolute wreck" who looked "skeletal" with her skin "hanging from her frame" when she arrived at her door.

The judge said the only reason Miss Sandeman did not escape earlier was because of her love for her tormentor's children.

Pearson-Gaballonie, who appeared in the dock with four security guards, sank to the floor and raised her hands to her face, crying as she was sentenced.

Det Insp Mick Moore, who led the investigation for North Yorkshire Police, said: "At the end of this extremely long legal process I want to pay tribute to the victim in this horrendous case.

"She has shown enormous courage and determination throughout and I hope today's sentence will bring some degree of closure for her."

The house where Sandeman was kept as a slave

Woman guilty over 'naked slave'
08 Sep 06 |  North Yorkshire
Woman 'kept as naked work slave'
06 Sep 06 |  North Yorkshire

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