By SAT News Desk
MELBOURNE, 21 July: A Melbourne Tamil couple from Mount Waverley Kumuthini Kannan, 53, and her husband, Kandasamy Kannan, 57, was today jailed by the Supreme Court of Victoria for 8 and 6 years respectively for keeping an aged woman as a slave at their home for eight years. The sentencing judge Justice John Champion said the couple’s crime is a crime against humanity. The three hours sentencing was witnessed by 200 people.
The 53-year-old woman was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, with parole eligibility in four years. The 57-year-old man was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, with parole eligibility in three years.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) began investigating the matter in September 2015 after receiving a referral from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (now the Australian Border Force), regarding a woman from India who traveled to Australia on a Tourist visa.
The AFP Human Trafficking Team commenced an investigation, which resulted in slavery charges being laid in June 2016
A comprehensive nine-month investigation by the AFP resulted in the 53-year-old woman and 57-year-old man being charged in June 2016 with possessing a slave, contrary to s270.3(1)(a) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and exercises over a slave any right of ownership, contrary to s270.3(1)(a) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
The Tamil couple was found guilty of charges of keeping a slave at their home for eight years between 2007 and 2015. The victim a woman now in her 60s came here on a 30-days tourist visa in 2007 was paid $ 3 per day. She was shifted to the Box Hill Hospital after being found in a pool of her own urine.
She looked after the couple’s three children, who considered her grandmother, the accused claimed.
“The enslaved grandmother, who cannot be named, was malnourished, with untreated diabetes, septicemia and weighed just 40kg when found at their Mount Waverley property in 2015, ” said a report in news.com.au.
The couple had recently appeared for a pre-sentencing hearing, were found guilty by a jury on two counts of possessing a slave and exercising power over a slave. Mrs. Kumuthini Kannan is a former Secretary of the Hindu Society of Victoria (HSV).
The couple’s defense denied the slavery allegations in court. The husband remains on bail till the sentencing day to look after the children and the wife was jailed after her bail was canceled.
AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said in a media release, ” The AFP is appealing to any victims, potential witnesses or communities impacted by human trafficking to know there are pathways to support,” D/Supt Crossling said.
“We want the public to be aware that human trafficking, slavery, and slavery-like practices are happening here in Australia, all too often without anyone in the community knowing.
“Our hope is for every case we investigate, it helps others experiencing similar conditions to speak up and seek our help.
“It is up to all of us to work together to protect people who are vulnerable to the exploitative crimes of modern slavery.”
STORY UPDATED on 22 July 2021.