A Sussex landlady who held a vulnerable woman captive for seven years, financially exploited her and went to great lengths to cover up her crimes has been found guilty of modern slavery and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Farzana Kausar, 58, of Selden Road in Worthing, was found guilty of keeping a person in slavery/servitude and perverting the course of justice at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday (October 13).
The court heard that in 2004, Kausar’s victim – a 62-year-old woman – started renting a room from Kausar’s mother, who is now deceased.
Over the ensuing 16 years, through a prolonged campaign of physical and psychological abuse, Kausar gradually trapped her victim in a life of social isolation and domestic servitude.
She would move her between properties in Sussex and London, forcing her to look after her young children, cook for the family, clean their home and complete other household chores.
Kausar also took full control of her victim’s finances, opening bank accounts in her name – from which she withdrew money – and making benefit claims on her behalf that she also kept for herself.
Her victim’s bank accounts were used to pay bills from across Kausar’s property empire and her name was used to register Kausar’s car for disabled use – allowing her to dodge road tax and park in disabled bays.
In May 2019, Sussex Police received reports of suspicious activity concerning Kausar and a modern slavery investigation was launched.
Two days later she was arrested on suspicion of modern slavery offences and assault, and released under investigation while enquiries continued.
During the investigation, a letter was given by Kausar to the police which she claimed was written by the victim, seemingly withdrawing her support for the investigation.
At this point the victim was removed from Kausar’s accommodation and rehoused, but within a matter of weeks Kausar had begun to contact her again, eventually taking her back within her control.
Kausar did not inform social services and instead moved the victim to a property in London without the knowledge of Sussex Police or partner agencies.
She took further steps to mask her crimes by proactively contacting the police in February, 2020, claiming the victim had been contacting her regularly, but that she had not seen her for months and had no knowledge of her whereabouts.
This was proven to be untrue.
In May, 2020, an investigation by police officers concerned for the victim’s welfare found that she was living in a box room in a house in Ilford, arranged by Kausar.
She was rehomed by police, placed in safe accommodation and charges of keeping a person in slavery/servitude and perverting the course of justice were brought against Kausar shortly after.
Following a three-week trial starting on September 26, a jury took just three hours to find her guilty of both counts.
She is due to be sentenced on Thursday, November 10, at a court to be confirmed.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Simon Morgan said: “Keeping a fellow human being in slavery is an abhorrent crime. Farzana Kausar preyed upon her victim’s vulnerabilities for many years, taking control of her freedom, exploiting her and inflicting a catalogue of abuses.
“While her victim may not have been physically caged, she was bound by invisible chains forged of the financial, psychological and physical abuse to which she was routinely subjected.
“Kausar consistently deprived her victim of her day-to-day possessions, her passport and her bank cards – the simple things we may take for granted.
“This conviction rested on the bravery and support of Kausar’s victim, crucial witness testimony and the tenacious investigative work of Sussex Police officers, staff and its partner agencies.
“I would also like to commend the initial informant, who trusted her instincts when something ‘didn’t feel right’ about the dynamic between Kausar and her victim, and reported it to the police.
“I thank them all for the role they played in freeing a vulnerable woman from captivity and bringing a calculated, ruthless offender to justice.”