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Woman found guilty of slavery after keeping vulnerable pensioner captive in her home | UK News

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A woman has been found guilty of slavery offences after stealing a vulnerable pensioner’s money and keeping her captive in her home.

Maria Miller, 64, subjected the woman to a seven-year ordeal after encouraging her to come and live with her in Chingford, northeast London.

Miller manipulated the pensioner, now aged 74, into performing chores around the house and in a charity shop she ran.

On some occasions she locked the pensioner out of the home, leaving her to go to the toilet in the garden, sleep outside in the shed and eat cat and dog food when she got hungry.

Miller also made the woman carry out tasks in exchange for meals, and sometimes left her to go without food for days.

The pensioner, who has learning difficulties and has not been named, lost a significant amount of weight.

Police discovered Miller had been spending the victim's money on expensive clothes
Image:
Police discovered Miller had been spending the victim’s money on expensive clothes

Miller refused to allow her access to a mobile phone, money or her own pension.

She also sent the pensioner out to collect money for her charity while she emptied the victim’s bank account.

Miller subjected the victim to assaults and sometimes made her sleep on the floor.

She also spent the pensioner’s benefits on expensive designer clothes, a new car and holidays.

Miller, who ran a cat orphanage, befriended the woman after she began volunteering there.

The victim did not realise she was being ill-treated for some years.

She said she put up with it because she enjoyed working with the animals at the charity shelter.

The alarm was raised with social services more than seven years later when the victim ran away from the home for the third time and sought help from a friend in June 2016.

When police searched Miller’s home as part of the investigation, documents were found showing the victim had supposedly changed her will leaving all of her estate to Miller.

Expensive items were found in Miller's home as it emerged she had been stealing money from her victim
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Miller put her victim through the ordeal for more than seven years

Detective Sergeant James Earle, who led the investigation, said: “I am very pleased that the long investigation into this matter has brought about justice for the victim.

“Miller targeted one of society’s most vulnerable with the motivation of financial gain, and in doing so treated her with an appalling level of inhumaneness.”

Richard Heatley, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This was an appalling case of modern slavery where a kind and vulnerable woman was manipulated and exploited for a number of years.

“The victim thought she was helping her friend with chores and charity work but in actual fact she was being exploited in the most appalling way.”

Miller was convicted of two counts of holding another in slavery or servitude and one count of theft at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday 21 June.

She was found not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent at the same trial.

Miller will be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 31 July.

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