herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

'Enslaved' Irish woman has yet to contact family

CONTACT: Aneeta Prem of Freedom Charity
CONTACT: Aneeta Prem of Freedom Charity

THE Irish woman who walked free from a suburban house in London where she was held in forced captivity for 30 years has had no contact with either her family or the Irish authorities.

The 57-year-old woman was one of three who were rescued from three decades of "emotional abuse" on October 25.

Their story came to light when the couple suspected of imprisoning them were arrested at their home in Lambeth in South London on Thursday in connection with keeping the women captive.

British police said yesterday thy are satisfied they have established the Irish woman's identity.

Asked if they had contacted her family, they said they are still considering contacting "anybody outside" of their group "when the time is right".

It has also emerged that while the British police have been in contact with the Irish embassy in London, it is not clear whether the Irish woman's identity has been disclosed.

Det Insp Kevin Hyland of Scotland Yard's human trafficking unit said: "That is something we are discussing and it is of a confidential nature."

The Irish woman, a 69-year-old Malaysian woman and a 30-year-old British woman were bound by "invisible handcuffs" to the house in South Lambeth and were emotionally abused for more than three decades, police said yesterday.

At a press conference at Metropolitan Police headquarters yesterday, new details emerged about the couple who are suspected of keeping the women enslaved. The pair, who are in their 60s, were arrested more than 40 years ago. Police refused to say what they were arrested for.

They also declined to reveal the nationalities of the two or whether they were married. They said they lived in an unremarkable house and may have seemed like a "normal" family

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL

They were arrested at 7.30am on Thursday following a long and sensitive police investigation. Officers searched the house for 12 hours and took away 65 bags of evidence amounting to 2,500 exhibits.

The couple were questioned not only about false imprisonment and assault of the three women but also about immigration offences.

They were later released on police bail, but they were told not to return to their Lambeth home.

Mr Hyland said the women had been subjected to long-term psychological and emotional abuse but were not, at this stage, believed to be victims of sex trafficking or human trafficking.

The extraordinary story of how the women walked to freedom after being deprived of their liberty for more than 30 years in the sprawling borough of Lambeth has captivated international audiences.

Yesterday, Aneeta Prem, who runs the Freedom Charity that helped orchestrate the women's release, said the situation they found in Lambeth was "unprecedented".

She said the Irish woman called the helpline on October 18 after seeing a TV documentary that highlighted the charity's work.

The rescue was carefully planned and, on October 25, the three women walked out of the suburban prison in an "emotional" liberation.

Police, Ms Preem and others from Freedom Charity were waiting for them.

"The women threw their arms around me individually. At that moment we all started crying and they all said individually to us, 'Thank you for saving our lives'," Ms Preem said.

hnews@herald.ie

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