Sydney woman guilty of keeping Thai women as slaves

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A Sydney woman has been found guilty of keeping two Thai women as slaves.

Today, Rungnapha "Lisa" Kanbut was found guilty by a NSW District Court jury of two counts each of intentionally possessing a slave, exercising powers of ownership over a slave and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

The two Thai women, who voluntarily came to Australia from Asia to do sex work, lived with Kanbut and her husband at their home in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

They testified at Kanbut's trial that she took their passports and returned them once they had each paid off a $45,000 "debt" which took some months.

Rungnapha "Lisa" Kanbut was found guilty by a NSW District Court jury of two counts each of intentionally possessing a slave, exercising powers of ownership over a slave and dealing with the proceeds of crime. (AAP)
The Crown alleged the 57-year-old "exercised complete control" over the women, but Kanbut's barrister contended the pair instead had an "economic relationship" with her.

But after a week of deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all of the charges.

Kanbut was refused bail and is next due to face court in September.

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During the trial, Judge Nanette Williams told the jury the law defined slavery as "the condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised, including where such a condition results from a debt or a contract made by the person".

Factors jurors could take into account included the exercise of powers of control over movement of the person which extend clearly beyond exploitative employment.

Crown prosecutor Peter Neil SC, in his closing submissions, said one of the women wasn't familiar with Sydney, had little money of her own and couldn't speak English.

"She said (Kanbut) said to her: 'Don't think about running away because there's nowhere for you to run'," the prosecutor said.

The first complainant testified naked photos of her were security that would be "put up to shame" her if she fled.

"Just because you accept your fate because there is no alternative doesn't mean you consent to it," Mr Neil said.

© AAP 2019

https://www.9news.com.au/national/sydney-news-rungnapha-kanbut-found-guilty-of-keeping-thai-women-as-slaves/ae20a982-9ddb-4bb5-8692-272f968b1f4d
 

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