A GP accused of slapping a low-paid babysitter she trafficked into the UK insisted today (mon) she is not a ‘bad’ person and only wanted to help the woman ‘better her life’.
Dr Ayodeji Adewakun, 44, along with her husband Abimbola Adewakun, 48, allegedly persuaded Iyabo Olatunji to leave Nigeria to come and care for their two children in Erith, southeast London.
Ms Olatunji, 37, told Southwark Crown Court she had been promised wages of £450 a month for looking after the kids during the day but was instead paid a measly £20 per week.
She said she had to work all day cleaning the house, cooking for the family and would even be woken when the doctor got home late and wanted something to eat.
The Adewakuns also refused her any time off and the GP slapped her across the face when she dared ask for more money, jurors were told.
Dr Adewakun told the court that Ms Olatunji, and then Lydia Ogundowala, were brought to the UK from Nigeria ‘for a better life’.
But prosecutor Caroline Carberry, QC, told jurors it was not long before each was ‘exploited’ by the married couple.
Dr Adewakun denies trafficking Ms Olatunji and a second woman into the UK for exploitation in addition to fraud, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and obtaining services by deception.
Her husband, Abimbola, denies trafficking Ms Olatunji and obtaining services by deception.
Dr Adewakun, based at the Abbey Wood surgery, told jurors she first met Iyabo back in 1996 when she worked for her husband’s parents as a domestic worker.
‘She was a nice girl,’ the GP commented, adding: ‘I think they liked her because she was a young girl then, so I think they liked her.’
Dr Adewakun later moved to the UK to join her husband and the couple got their first au-pair in 2002.
‘There is a website called aupair.com,’ she described.
‘It was on that website that I got my first au-pair.’
Jurors heard users could specify how much they were willing to pay while au-pairs set their own stall out in terms of how much they wanted to be paid.
Their first childminder was paid £50 per week, the court heard.
That woman, named Sylvia, moved into a converted office in the Adewakun’s home until she eventually moved on.
‘On the same au-pair website you could get anyone you wanted,’ continued the doctor when asked how she went about getting a new childminder.
‘I just decided that I wanted somebody from Nigeria.
‘I looked on the website but when I spoke to the person they said we had to arrange for them to come to the country.
‘We would have to contact the person we wanted directly, speak to them and start making arrangements for them to come to the country – we had to do that ourselves, the au-pair website wouldn’t do that.
‘Sincerely, I first thought it would be better for me to get somebody that I already knew, because it would give them the opportunity to come to the country and better their lives.’
In order to come to the UK, Ms Olatunji first needed a passport.
But when she initially filled out the form wrong, Dr Adewakun asked her brother to help her fill it in correctly.
When her visa application was also rejected the GP went online and quickly amended a simple nanny’s contract template from Google and sent it to Ms Olatunji for her to show the British High Commission.
‘If she was coming to work as an au-pair, there was nothing to say what she would do,’ explained Dr Adewakun.
‘There was just a letter from us saying we wanted her to come and live with us and look after the kids.
‘I just went on the website and typed in ‘contracts for au-pairs and nannies’ and this contract came up’.’
She said that no legal advice was sought before sending the contract which was discussed with Ms Olatunji over the phone.
Jurors heard that her duties comprised cooking ‘light meals’ for the kids and ‘cleaning where the children had used’.
‘All she had to do is to get the stew out and give it to the kids,’ said the GP, refuting the suggestion that the nanny was made to stay up late to cook for the homeowners when they got back from work.
‘My husband does not eat anyone else’s food, so I have to cook.
‘I cook on the Saturday for the whole week.’
Jurors heard a clause stating the nanny’s £450 monthly salary was to be paid into her bank account had to be amended because she did not have one.
The GP claimed the couple would routinely withdraw cash, store it in a pot in the house and hand it over at the end of each month.
‘What do you say to the allegation that you only ever paid Iyabo £20 per week?’ asked the GP’s barrister Michael Newport.
‘That is not true,’ Dr Adewakun replied, adding that there was ‘never’ any discussions about the nanny ‘only’ getting £20 per week.
She also denied Ms Carberry’s suggestion the Nigerian girls were targeted because ‘no European woman would take [her] physical and verbal abuse’.
Dr Adewakun added: ‘I have never done these things.
‘I have never, ever treated anyone like these two girls have said I treated them.’
Jurors heard the girls coming to the UK was ‘simply for their own good’.
The couple, both of (21) St. Catherine’s Road, Erith, Bexley, deny obtaining services by deception and trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation.
Dr Adewakun also denies assaulting Ms Olatunji and two further counts of fraud and trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation in relation to a second victim.
The trial continues.