Pregnant woman appears in court on slavery charges

A pregnant mother-of-two has been remanded in custody after appearing in court accused of a human trafficking charge.

Precious Izekor, 25, of Castlereagh Place, Belfast, has been charged with requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

She was brought to the dock of Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning after being arrested in Scotland on Tuesday.

She indicated she understood the charge when it was put to her.

Ms Izekor’s appearance comes days after her husband Osarobo Izekor, 33, of the same address, was the first person to be charged with such an offence in Northern Ireland.

The alleged offence spanned the months between December 2016 and September 2017.

On Friday morning, the court heard Ms Izekor is a naturalised UK citizen who is originally from Sierra Leone, and has family in Nigeria.

She had been at her mother’s address in Scotland when she was arrested, the court heard.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective said he believes he can connect Ms Izekor with the charge.

He told the court that, if found guilty, police believe she will face a lengthy custodial sentence.

Opposing bail, the detective voiced concerns of a flight risk, telling the court the defendant has access to £18,000 and also expressed a concern she could attempt to interfere with witnesses, and to make contact with the victim.

He described the victim as being from an impoverished background in Nigeria and said the two accused were from “different ends of the social scale”.

Ms Izekor’s defence barrister revealed to the court that she is currently pregnant and is the mother of two children.

Making an application for bail, the barrister suggested a number of safeguards, including a curfew, electronic tagging, reporting to police and passport surrender.

However, district judge Fiona Bagnall denied bail and instead remanded Ms Izekor in custody to appear again on May 31.

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