An elderly woman with learning difficulties who volunteered at a “cat orphanage” (presumed a cat shelter) was turned into a slave by the charity’s owner. The owner, Maria Miller, 64, has been convicted of two counts of holding in slavery and servitude and one count of theft.
Maria Miller invited her volunteer, who is a pensioner aged 74, to live with her in her home in Chingford, East London in January 2012. That’s when the slavery began. Miller emptied the pensioner’s bank account. She spent the money on designer clothes, holidays and cars.
The pensioner was left so hungry that she resorted to eating cat and dog food. The victim cannot be named. The victim was even prevented from having access to her own pension. She was completely exploited and often locked out at night and forced to go to the bathroom in the backyard.
A room in Millar’s home was stuffed full of designer clothes and bottles of champagne. The pensioner’s bank account had been emptied by her. The victim ran away for a third time in June 2016 and asked a friend to help. The friend contacted social services. Police visited Miller’s home and searched it. They found the victim’s will which showed that the victim left everything to Miller. Miller will be sentenced at court on July 31.
“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 denied any wrongdoing and said that she had taken control of the victim’s finances because otherwise the victim would hand her money out to strangers she just met. Modern slavery has a devastating, lasting impact on its victims.” – Richard Heatley, from CPS London North.