Wigan ‘slave’ forced to eat pet food

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A FORMER Wigan woman was kept for 10 years as a slave, a court heard.

Angela Derbyshire was taken by another local woman 20 years her senior and put through a decade of degradation before finally winning her freedom.

Blackpool magistrates heard that Julie Davies began to dominate her every moment but it was years before social services reacted to neighbours’ fears about what was going on at the seaside terraced house they shared.

But when police did intervene and the authorities got involved they discovered what one senior probation officer called the “worst case of abuse I have ever come across.”

Angela has now started a new life and, despite being over 30, had to be found a foster home because she had the mental age of a toddler.

An investigation into her plight revealed:

She was not allowed baths;

She had to urinate in a bucket;

She was beaten with a metal pole kept for the purpose;

Made to stand out in the rain in her bare feet; and

She was forced to eat pet food.

Neighbours thought that she was Davies’s daughter and despite hearing screams from the house were at first reluctant to intervene.

In fact the couple were not related in any way, having first met when both lived in Wigan.

One of the neighbours in Elizabeth Street, Blackpool, where Davies and her victim lived said: “She treated Angie like a slave.”

Diane Fisher added: “I would call at the house and ask for Angie but Julie would deny she was there.

“When I did go inside the house was freezing and Angie would be sitting on the floor with bare feet.

“I remember inviting them both round for Christmas dinner but Angie would not sit at the table with us.

“She waited until we had all finished and I asked her why she was not eating and she said she was not allowed to eat that sort of food.

“She always had a skinhead-type of haircut and would shoplift for sweets like a little kid trying for treats.

“Julie would always shout commands at her.

“I am told she made her stand outside in the rain as punishment.”

“Julie liked her karaoke nights at the local pub. She would get plastered and Angie would nurse half a coke all night.

“Since Julie was arrested and Angie left, Angie has blossomed a lot.

“She needed to be freed from that woman who dominated her.”

Davies - also known by the surname Sweeney - formerly ran a second hand shop in the town.

The 52-year-old, now of Lytham Road, admitted two charges of assaulting Angela at their home in March last year.

The assaults were caused by kicking her 31-year-old victim and then battering her on the arms and legs with the pole.

Prosecuting, Pam Smith said: “These two people met in Wigan and when the defendant came to live in Blackpool the victim came with her.

“They have been together around 10 years.”

“After they came to Blackpool neighbours reported concerns about what was going on - that Angela was in fear of the defendant and suffering abuse.

“The police public protection unit and other authorities became involved.

“Angela was twice interviewed and told police about the on-going situation and how she had been hit with a metal bar.

“Angela Derbyshire was in the police view in an extremely vulnerable position.”

When she was arrested Davies told police she knew she had done wrong.

Defending, Martin Hillson said: “This is a very sad siutation. It has been portrayed as one woman - the aggrieved - who has a problem but in fact both do. My client has her own health issues.

“I believe there should have been intervention from the authorities at an earlier stage.

“My client accepts she reacts in an irrational way in some situations and she accepts the violence was not justified.”

Chairman of the bench, Sylvia Kirby, told Davies: “You inflicted repeated and sustained attacks on your victim and subjected her to ongoing degradation.

“You showed no evidence of remorse.”

Davies was given a 23-week jail term suspended for a year and made the subject of a restraining order forbidding her to contact Angela Derbyshire.