Osezua Osolase was stopped boarding a plane at Stansted Airport after a police and Border Agency operation
A man from Kent has been found guilty of trafficking three teenage girls from Nigeria into Europe for prostitution.
Osezua Osolase, 42, of Beaumont Drive, Gravesend, carried out African witchcraft "Juju" rituals on the girls, a jury at Canterbury Crown Court heard. He was found guilty after a six-week trial of five counts of trafficking the girls, one count of rape and one count of sexual activity with a child. The recycling worker was remanded in custody to be sentenced on Monday. Kent Police said Osolase preyed on vulnerable girls, promising them modelling careers, education and a better life. The girls were trafficked into the UK before being sent to work as prostitutes in mainland Europe.
One of the girls described the Juju ceremony performed on her in Nigeria. During the ritual, samples of blood were extracted from the girl and her head hair and pubic hair were also cut. She was then told to swear an oath of silence.
Juju refers to traditional West African religions involving witchcraft and ritual practices. Osolase was stopped at Stansted airport in April 2011 attempting to board a plane. "Osolase led these girls to believe a better life awaited them in the UK," said Insp Eddie Fox from Kent and Essex Serious Crime Inspectorate. "He preyed on vulnerable girls who had no one to care for them and would not be missed. "The mental and physical scars inflicted by Osolase will remain with the victims for the rest of their lives. "Juju is a well established belief but Osolase corrupted it in a bid to gain control and bend the wills of his victims." The girls, who were aged 14, 16 and 17 when they were apprehended by UKBA officials, were travelling on fraudulently obtained Nigerian passports.
Insp Andy Radcliffe, from the UK Border Agency (UKBA), said the trafficking was serious "organised criminality". "Traffickers will use physical intimidation and mental control on their victims," he said. "To get them [the victims] to open up to us was a matter of weeks of very careful handling, and a very sensitive nature of interviewing to get the evidence to bring this case to court." Osolase was found not guilty of one count of trafficking, three rapes, and one charge of actual bodily harm.