A Vancouver-area man convicted of human trafficking in a case involving a live-in Filipina nanny was sentenced to 18 months in jail today in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
This summer, Franco Yiu Kwan Orr was found guilty of illegally employing a foreign national and misrepresenting the situation to immigration officials. He was also found guilty on a charge of human trafficking. Oi Long Nicole Huen, Orr's wife, was acquitted on all charges brought against her.
Leticia Sarmiento, of the Philippines, said she worked as a nanny for Orr, his wife and their three children when she came to Canada with the couple from Hong Kong five years ago.
She testified in court that she worked 16-hour days, that she was paid a $500-a-month pittance and that she was lied to about gaining legal employment in Canada. In 2010, after working for the family for 22 months, Sarmiento called 911 to reach out for help.
Responding to the decision, Sarmiento says the sentence is more than a personal victory.
"I will take this opportunity to encourage all workers, not only live-in caregivers, but also all the low workers here in Canada, and all over the world. Don't be afraid. Come out, so you can get justice," she says.
Crown lawyers described her treatment as modern slavery, and asked that Orr go to prison for five to six years. Orr's lawyer asked for a conditional sentence with no jail time.
At sentencing, the B.C. Supreme Court Justice Richard Goepel ruled that Sarmiento was not treated as a slave, and that the Crown did not prove she was forced to work the long hours she claimed.
In handing down the 18-month sentence, Goepel said the Crown didn't prove that Sarmiento was subjected to humiliating or degrading treatment, but did prove that the man profited by paying low wages.
Orr's lawyer, Nicholas Preovolos, said he will be appealing the conviction and hopes to have a bail hearing set by the end of the week.
According to the RCMP, there have been 45 convictions in Canada for human trafficking or related crimes, involving 69 people, but Orr's is the first for human trafficking under the Immigration Act.