An elderly woman allegedly held captive as a slave for eight years by a couple claims she was cruelly beaten with frozen chickens in front of her captors’ own children.
The woman, who along with the couple accused of keeping her a slave cannot be named due to a court-imposed gag order, has appeared on video again on Monday before a Supreme Court of Victoria jury in Melbourne.
‘She will take the chicken and put it on my head, or she will, ah, hit my face,’ the alleged slave told a federal agent after her rescue in 2015.
A woman accused of being a slave driver would ‘throw things’ if she was not satisfied with the quality of her alleged slave’s work
A man accused of being a slaver enters the Supreme Court of Victoria
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
‘She will take a chicken, frozen chicken, and hit on my head and all that.’
The couple are accused of ‘crimes against humanity’ by allegedly keeping the woman a slave for eight years.
On Monday, the jury was played the third of six video-recorded interviews the woman participated in.
The jury heard the woman, speaking through a Tamil interpreter, explain how she was ‘tortured’ by her female captor even after sustaining a broken wrist in a fall.
‘Like then there was problems and, um, that she would ask me to do all the job, you know work like, quickly,’ she told the agent.
‘If I don’t act quickly then she will beat me here, beat me there, she will beat my head and, like, how can I do fast because I can’t because my fingers won’t function because of the – it’s broken there, and my hands were like this.’
The woman claimed her captor would kick her injured leg and routinely beat her.
‘It was swollen. And then she kicked me on my swollen leg, and my leg’s gone,’ she said. ‘I have this much hair, and she was pulling my hair, so now it’s all gone.’
The woman claimed she was allowed to sleep just one hour a night and was forbidden from speaking.
‘She won’t let me sleep. Um, if I fold the clothes and put away, she will just, you know, tip it over and then say, “Okay, fold again. This is not, you know, nicely folded. Do it again, do that, do this,”,’ she said.
The female slaver has been accused of throwing things when unhappy with her alleged slave
The couple accused of imprisoning her allegedly lied about how they knew her when she collapsed in their Melbourne home, a court heard
When the woman did eventually fall asleep, she was cruelly awoken, the jury heard.
‘Then if I go and sleep then she will come and pour the water on me and then put the light, and she won’t let me sleep,’ the woman said.
‘And without sleep, how can I function the next day? No sleep at all, and then she will abuse me saying that, “You are an orphan, you’re, um, you’re a beggar, you don’t have anybody here … So this is all she treated me like really ill-treated, and she tortured, and tortured, and tortured.’
The woman claimed the beatings went on for years at a time.
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
‘First time I don’t know. It’s, like, almost every day. Like, um, when she is not happy she will just throw it on my face. Tea, she will throw it on me,’ she told the agent.
‘Like, hot water. When it’s bubbling, she will put it on my leg. Then I would get like, big boils there and she won’t look at it. She’ll be drinking and then she will throw it on my face. Whatever it is, she will just pick up and throw – ah, pour it on my head.’
The woman claimed to suffer humiliating attacks at the family table.
‘She will put her fingers and pull everything out of my mouth,’ the woman said.
‘And also she will pick all the vegetables and she will put it in my mouth and she will stuff it, and she will say, “Eat, eat, eat.” … And she will kick me or punch me.’
The woman was discovered in 2015 after she collapsed inside the couple’s Glen Waverley home.
She had been found in a pool of her own urine weighing just 40kg with a temperature of just 28.5C and suffering from sepsis.
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 have pleaded not guilty to intentionally keeping the woman as a slave between July 2007 and July 2015.
The jury heard the alleged slave was doomed to fail no matter how hard she worked for the couple.
‘Even when there was nothing, she would find fault with this and that … when I was clipping nails, she would rush me asking why I was taking so long … and would hit me. Couldn’t hold the hand like this… would be swollen,’ she said.
‘I was not cook quick enough. Plus the kids need to be fed. But if she just, um, you know, um, throw everything, whatever I cook, how can I cook again?’
An alleged slaver leaves court in 2017. She faces years behind bars if convicted of the ‘crime against humanity’
The alleged slaver denies the allegations and claims her supposed victim made up the story to save her own skin
The woman said she was unable to defend herself against the attacks and had little assistance from her male captor, whom she claimed sat idly by.
‘If I open my mouth, she will just hit me like that,’ the jury heard.
‘Husband did nothing to stop: Just the kids, her and her husband. And he will just sit at the – um, in front of the computer afterwards.’
Even the presence of her captor’s own children failed to stop the abuse, the woman said.
‘When the father shouts or curse them, you know, they don’t care. They are okay. But when she will yell at the kids and she will beat them … they’re all very scared,’ she said.
The woman told police her female captor was the predominant tormentor and would shut down her husband if he tried to intervene.
‘Because I was strong. I was able to suffer. For four years I was telling that my legs were hurting, hurting. If I ask him and he did bring any medication, she would scold him. Like, “I’m also feeling not great, my leg is also hurting. Why are you buying medication for her?”,’ the woman told police.
The female accused’s barrister, Dr Gideon Boas, had earlier told the jury his client actually considered the woman as family and referred to her affectionately as ‘grandmother’.
He claimed the only crime his client had committed was harbouring the woman after her one-month travel visa had expired.
It was fear of prosecution over the visa violation that not only caused the woman to lie to authorities, but the alleged victim to lie about her captivity, the court heard.
Dr Boas said the alleged victim had ‘crucial motivation’ to make up the story after being questioned by police and Australian Border Force officers.
‘There is very much another side to the story,’ Dr Boas said.
The trial continues.
The Case Against Alleged Slavers
A couple accused of keeping an Indian woman as a slave before she was discovered with no teeth and emaciated with sepsis claimed she was treated ‘like a king’.
The couple are both charged with intentionally possessing a slave and intentionally exercising the right of ownership over a slave between 2007 and 2015.
The pair claim they have been framed and have become embroiled in an elaborate extortion attempt.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Victoria heard the couple had been heard by police discussing the allegations over phone taps.
‘“It seems the suggestion is a letter would be produced which would suggest an extortion attempt had been made to extort 10 laks, the equivalent of $18,000 or $19,000 in order to drop the allegations,’ Prosecutor Richard Maidment told jurors.
The court has heard the alleged victim had no teeth when found by police in 2015.
When asked why by police, her alleged keeper claimed she had pulled them out herself and ate only mash.
The woman had allegedly been enslaved after two previous visits with the family.
The alleged slave was found after she became sick and the woman called her an ambulance.
Paramedics found her shivering in a pool of urine in the bathroom.
The trial continues.