Kandasamy and Kumuthini Kannan – the Kannans – of Melbourne found guilty of secretly keeping a woman as slave in their home for more than eight years have been jailed for their inhuman acts labelled as “crime against humanity” by the sentencing judge, Justice John Champion.
Husband Kandasamy Kannan, 57, who was in court, has been ordered to serve six years.
Wife Kumuthini Kannan, 53, who was already in custody and appeared through a video link, has been ordered to spend eight years behind bars.
To the shock of many, the couple still plead innocence and do not believe they have committed the crime they have been charged with and sentenced for.
This case is an Australian first. In Australia’s legal history, this is the first case where someone has been prosecuted solely about slavery by domestic servitude. The prosecutors say the case has seen the longest period of enslavement ever seen in Australia.
Throughout the couple continued to “strenuously” profess their innocence and through their lawyers, an appeal against the sentencing is quite likely. The couple’s legal team has already indicated that they may be preparing for an appeal.
During a sentencing, the Supreme Court of Victoria Justice John Champion, addressing the couple said:
“Slavery is regarded as a crime against humanity,” he said.
“Your offending occurred in the daily presence and with the obvious knowledge and comprehension of your children.
“You set them a deplorable example of how parents should act towards another human being.
“Her life was controlled largely in the privacy of your own home and care was taken by you to keep her true status from others in your community … so that your dirty secret was maintained.
“This court publicly condemns you both for your disgraceful conduct.”
As to the credibility of the couple in giving evidence, Justice Champion branded the couple as “almost compulsive liars”.
“The number and brazen quality of the lies has been nothing short of astonishing,” the judge said.
“I’m quite convinced that you both believe you have done nothing wrong.
“Neither of you have shown remorse or contrition.”
Kumuthini Kannan appeared in court from prison where she rocked back and forth during the hearing.
The couple’s victim, an old lady had come to Australia twice before and had returned to India after short employment on each of the occasion.
The prosecution case was that on her third visit in 2007, she was enslaved by the Kannans and forced to cook, clean and care for the couple’s children for eight years. She was effectively paid about $3.39 per day.
Prosecutors now want the court to order the Kannans to back pay the woman for years of unpaid work.