To the shock of many in the Victorian Indian community, a Southern Indian origin couple – the Kannans – have been found guilty of keeping a woman, an illegal maid, as a slave in their Mount Waverley home for eight years.
Kandasamy Kannan and his wife Kumuthini Kannan kept a Tamil Indian woman as their domestic servant between July 2007 and July 2015. The Court heard the woman was paid the equivalent of $3.39 a day.
The woman, whose name is still under suppression orders while Justice John Champion lifted the suppression order on the Kannans, said she was on call around the clock every day of the year.
The woman did all the work – washing, cleaning, preparing food and caring for the couple’s three children who have autism.
It was not only wrong for the couple to treat the woman the way they did, it was also not appropriate for their children to be treated that way. Children with autism require specialist’s care to help them properly develop their faculties to have normal or near normal growth.
The woman claimed “Mrs Kannan regularly physically and verbally abused her, including pouring boiling liquids on her and throwing hot tea in her face. The victim said she was also hit with a frozen chicken, cut with a knife and suffered a broken hand when she fell down stairs”, The Age reported.
BT believes the woman wanted to go back to India but the Kannans would not allow her to go.
“Her captors would also lock her inside the home when they went on holidays for weeks at a time” Channel Nine reported.
He authorities discovered the woman only after the woman’s family contacted police.
“By the time authorities discovered the woman, she was emaciated, suffering sepsis and diabetes and had lost all her teeth”.
She was found by ambulance paramedics lying in a pool of her own urine inside the home on July 30, 2015, in poor health and weighing about 40 kilograms, the trial heard. She was later treated in hospital for a urinary infection and undiagnosed diabetes.
After a trial which began in February and lasted 10 weeks, the jury found the Kannans “guilty of intentionally exercising over a slave any of the powers attaching to the right of ownership”.
The Kannans were released by the court on bail only to make arrangements for the care of their three children.
The Kannans will be back for a pre-sentence hearing on June 29. With a potential maximum sentence of up to 25 years, hanging over their head, jail time of some length must be haunting the Kannans.