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11 December 2015, 17:12
A couple from Nottingham have been jailed for keeping a woman with learning difficulties as a slave.
29-year-old Vicki Jepson and 37-year-old Gavin Pascoe locked their victim in a house, stole her benefits, beat her and threatened her family.
Jepson was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty on 29 June to forced labour, theft and committing actual bodily harm (ABH) on at least five occasions.
Pascoe was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to forced labour, one count of grievous bodily harm and committing ABH on at least 10 occasions.
Their friend Andrew Pepper intially denied the charges against him, but pleaded guilty midway through his trial on 9 December to two counts of ABH and five counts of common assault.
He will be sentenced on 4 January.
The court heard that the 24-year-old victim, who has learning difficulties, was taken to Jepson and Pascoe’s house in Rosslyn Drive, Aspley, in August 2014 by someone she met online.
She didn’t leave for five months.
The trio used threats of violence against her and her family in order to enslave her.
She was made to sleep on the kitchen floor or in a duck pen and during the day she was subjected to beatings, threats and intimidation. If she didn’t do as she was told she would be soaked with cold water and on one occasion Pascoe attacked her with a hockey stick.
She suffered a broken wrist and ribs and a medical exam found scarring on her back, thighs and arms.
And during the whole five months Jepson lined her pockets with cash from the benefits that should have been going to their victim.
The woman made her escape when a relative of Pascoe’s visited the house and told her to get out. She ran to a neighbour’s house and the police were called.
DC Claire Reilly, Radford Road CID said: “We are pleased Jepson and Pascoe have received jail terms for their cruelty.
“The victim was targeted because of her vulnerability and became trapped by people who treated her as their slave.
“We were shocked when we met her as she was clearly unwell after suffering at the hands of these three. Despite her ordeal, she has demonstrated tremendous courage in helping us to build this case and to support the prosecution.
“It is hard to believe that this happened in a normal house, in a normal street, where families live. They hid in plain sight.
“Modern slavery can take many forms, not just forced labour or domestic servitude. We would ask that people are vigilant to this kind of thing and help those who are being kept against their will by contacting police on 101 should they suspect anything.”