In 2021, Kumuthini and Kandasamy Kannan were found guilty for possessing a slave and exercising power over a slave, the Herald Sun reported. They were sentenced to eight and six years in prison, respectively.
The convictions were based on an elderly Tamil woman who lived at the Kannans’ home in Melbourne between 2007 and 2015.
However, the Kannans, who are husband and wife, appealed the verdicts in separate bids in February, arguing that the victim’s testimony was “lacking in credibility” and the jury should have had reasonable doubt over their guilt, the Herald Sun stated.
On March 21, a judgment was handed down stating that although the victim had “prevaricated, dissembled and lied” in parts of her evidence, there was still sufficient proof for the jury to find the Kannans guilty of the multiple slavery offenses, according to authorities.
The victim, who has not been identified due to a court order, arrived in Australia from southern India in 2007. She lived with the Kannans until she was rushed to the hospital in July 2015.
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When paramedics found the victim in 2015, she was lying in a pool of her own urine, weighed only 88 pounds, barely conscious, suffering from hypothermia, a urinary sepsis and untreated Type 2 diabetes.
During the trial, the victim said she was kept as a prisoner in the Kannans’ house and wasn’t allowed to leave when the Kannans traveled. She also said she had been stabbed, beaten with sticks and frozen chicken, hit in the head with a plate repeatedly and scalded with boiling water.
The judges in the appeal stated there was no medical evidence to support any of these allegations. A neighbor also testified with evidence showing she visited the victim every day for a month while the Kannans were on vacation and was given a key to the front door.
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Evidence also showed photos of the victim with fellow Tamils at Crown Casino, in Ballarat and Phillip Island, which “seemingly contradicted” the claim she was kept a prisoner in the Kannas’ home, the judges said.
Nonetheless, the judges said “the preponderance of evidence would have justified the jury finding that the applicants had it within their power to determine how she conducted her daily life.”
They added, “Her descent into grave ill health cannot have gone unnoticed by them both, yet no medical assistance was sought for her until she had wasted to a mere 40kg (88 pounds) and was found hypothermic and barely conscious in a pool of her own urine.”
The appeals were dismissed. Kandasamy Kannan is eligible for parole in July 2024 and Kumuthini Kannan is eligible in July 2025.
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