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Nigerian child trafficker threatened victims with 'juju'

ABUSER: Anthony Harrison, 32, has been jailed for 20 years for his hideous crimes

A MAN who used witchcraft to control and force two trafficked Nigerian teenage girls to work as prostitutes in the UK has been jailed for 20 years today (July 7).

A court heard how Anthony Harrison, 32, of Albert Square, east London, was part of a Nigerian organised criminal network that used black magic - known in West Africa as 'juju' - to abuse young girls and force them to swear an oath of obedience.

"These young women suffered the most terrifying and degrading ordeal - leaving them emotionally, psychologically and physically traumatised,” said DC Andy Desmond of the MPS’s Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command.

"Most cruelly of all, they were brainwashed into believing that if they disobeyed their captors by seeking help, they would die. They were also told that if they went to the police for help they would be handed straight back to their captors."

In a three-week trial, London's Woolwich Crown Court heard how Harrison trafficked the two girls, dubbed Victim A and Victim B, into the UK from Nigeria in 2009.

Victim A, only 16, told police she was sold by an uncle to Harrison in Edo State, central Southern Nigeria, in 2009.

She said her uncle took her to two men who performed a juju ceremony on her in which they forced to remove her clothing before shaving her arm pits and pubic hair and placing her into a coffin.

Her body was then cut with a razor blade, from her head to her toes. Black soot was then rubbed into her wounds. The hair on her head was also cut and placed in the coffin.

A sample of her blood was added to the coffin after she was cut deep enough to bleed. The men later tied her hands behind her back and forced her inside a second coffin and shut the lid.

Police said: "She fought to get out but was unable to. She believes that she passed out due to the fear of being locked inside."

The girl was subjected to a second ceremony a few days then she was taken by car to a house in Lagos where a number of other females were housed - including Victim B.

After this she was taken by car to numeorus hotels where she was forced to have sex with men in exchange for money.

Detectives said she was forced to memorise a "story" for UK officials and the police and was warned that "if she failed to stick with the story then the spirits would punish her with death."

Victim A was provided with a false passport, told to claim asylum on arrival and was given a mobile number to call a few days after arriving. She was taken into care.

Police said she later called the number, which was Harrison’s, and he arranged for a cab to pick her up and take her to Stratford, east London. He met her there and later took her to his home and arranged for her to be sold to a gang in Spain.

When she arrived in Madrid on false papers, Victim A turned herself over to Spanish authorities. "She later told police that she was so exhausted and traumatised by her ordeal that she no longer cared if the Juju gods would kill her for disobeying her captors," detectives said.

The Spanish authorities returned the victim to the UK where she was once again placed into the care of Hillingdon social services.

They caught Harrison after tracking the credit card he used to pay for the flight to Spain. They rescued Victim B, who is age 14, after realising Harrison had booked another flight for a female to Athens using the same credit card.

Both victims have been granted five years humanitarian protection by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and are being looked after by Hillingdon social services and the Poppy Project, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the welfare of trafficked women.

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