Woman is ‘held as a slave for EIGHT YEARS by a husband and wife’ in a Melbourne home where she was found in a pool of urine and weighing 40kg, court hears
- Tamil girl came to Australia to care for a couple’s three children, a court heard
- Disappeared for eight years until she was found when she collapsed in the house
- Had a temperature of just 28.5C and was suffering from sepsis when found
- Husband and wife are on trial accused of holding her as a slave all that time
An Indian woman allegedly held as a slave in a squalid corner of a suburban home for eight years was found in a pool of her own urine weighing just 40kg.
The couple accused of imprisoning her allegedly lied about how they knew her when she collapsed in their Melbourne home, a court heard.
She had a temperature of just 28.5C and was suffering from sepsis when she was rushed to hospital in a serious condition in July 2015.
Traumatised and with serious medical conditions, she spent more than two months in hospital recovering – and for much of that time nobody knew her real identity.
The husband and wife, whose home she was found at, are accused of intentionally possessing the woman as a slave between July 2007 and July 2015.
The woman twice came to Melbourne from her home in Tamil Nadu, in southern India, to care for the couple’s three children (pictured), then disappeared for eight years, the court heard
A trial for the couple, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, began in Victoria’s Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Richard Maidment QC said the woman twice came to Melbourne from her home in Tamil Nadu, in southern India, to care for the couple’s three children before returning in 2007.
Eight years later, paramedics found her to be emaciated, weighing just 40kg and suffering from sepsis and untreated type-two diabetes.
The wife called triple-zero after finding the woman collapsed in their Mount Waverley home, and told the operator that she only knew the woman’s first name.
She said the woman had come to stay with them, but left a number of times after receiving calls from unknown people.
The couple accused of imprisoning her allegedly lied about how they knew her when she collapsed in their Melbourne home, a court heard
The woman also didn’t tell the truth, later telling authorities she was still under the couple’s influence and control, and that she was fearful of being illegally in Australia. Her visa expired in August 2007, and her passport in 2011.
Mr Maidment said it’s alleged the husband and wife seriously interfered with her fundamental rights and freedoms, including her ability to leave their home, communicate with others and access healthcare.
He said while she didn’t pay for lodging all she received in payment was ‘the odd $5 or $10 note on her birthday’ and some saris in exchange for cooking, cleaning, folding clothes and caring for the children.
The jury heard the woman’s son-in-law had arranged for her to work for the family – under the impression she would be paid.
‘In the early days she would be allowed to speak on the phone with her son-in-law and daughter two or three times a year, but from about 2012 contact slowed to almost nothing, Mr Maidment said.
The husband and wife, whose home she was found at, are accused of intentionally possessing the woman as a slave between July 2007 and July 2015
When her daughter sent an email to the couple asking for her mother to be sent back to India she received two replies.
The first simply said ‘get f**ked’ while the second said, in all capitals, ‘tell her to go f**k herself’, the court heard. Her family in India then contacted Australian authorities who launched an investigation.
Earlier the court heard visa applications for the woman included a letter to her from the couple, describing them as ‘eternally grateful’ for her help.
Mr Maidment said the letter was written in English, purportedly to the victim who was an illiterate Tamil speaker who didn’t know English. He described it as ‘window dressing’.