A woman is facing time behind bars after she kept an elderly woman with learning difficulties as a slave for four years, in a case which has been labelled as “appalling”.
Maria Miller, 64, fronted Snaresbrook Crown Court this week to face charges relating to the manipulation and exploitation of a 74-year-old pensioner who she had met through a volunteer organisation helping cats, The Daily Mail reports.
The cat charity boss first invited the pensioner to stay at her home in London in 2012, with the situation quickly taking a turn for the worse.
The court heard how, instead of receiving care and support, the 74-year-old was ordered to essentially work as a slave, undertaking chores around the house and being forced to beg on the street for money. She was denied any access to communication through her phone and according to The Daily Mail was forced to sleep outside, even resorting to eating cat food in order to survive.
Miller also reportedly claimed all of the pensioner’s money as her own and spent it on lavish items for herself with police finding a collection of designer clothes and bottles of champagne in the house.
The elderly woman lived in the terrible state for years with police only becoming aware of the situation in June 2016 when the pensioner ran away from the house and sought help from a friend.
It was then, after a search of the property, police discovered a will which outlined that all of the victims belongings and funds should go to Miller in the event of her death.
Appearing in court recently, Miller was convicted of two counts of holding in slavery and servitude and one count of theft, The Daily Mail reports. She will return to court on July 31 for sentencing.
Speaking about the shocking situation Richard Heatley from Crown Prosecution North described it as an “appalling case of modern slavery” which saw a “kind and caring” woman be manipulated and exploited over 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,” he said according to The Daily Mail.
“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.”
Despite being confined to terrible living conditions for years on end, metropolitan police detective sergeant Ellie Jones said the pensioner is doing well and is enjoying life once again.
“She is an incredibly strong woman who has shown amazing bravery and resilience in coming forward to police and going through the difficult process of reliving her traumatic experiences in the court room and she is now thriving in her new found freedom and independence,” The Daily Mail reports she said.