A British family who trafficked, enslaved and forced a man to work unpaid for almost five years by beating and starvng him have been jailed for several years.
On Friday Damian Siwak, 31, was jailed for three years and four months and Kyrstian Siwak, 25, and Rozalia Siwak, 47, were jailed for two years and three months, having earlier being found guilty of bringing a man to the UK with the intention of exploitation and forced labour.
A court heard how the 46-year-old victim was approached in his native Poland in September 2010 and offered a job in the UK where he was told he would earn "a good wage for an honest day’s work".
The man met Kyrstian Siwak at an address in Poland and flew with him to Liverpool Airport, having agreed that the airfare would be taken out of his wages.
Upon landing in the UK, he was taken to the Siwaks’ home address in Bolton, where his identification documents were taken away from him for "safe-keeping". He was to never see them again.
The court heard that the victim was immediately put to work, carrying out night shifts alongside Damian for six months without ever receiving payment.
Over the course of the following 18 months, between mid-2011 and the end of 2012, the victim continued to work for what he believed was an agency, mainly carrying out construction work.
The victim never knew exactly how the work was being arranged or received any official wage, as he was told the money he earned would be paid into a bank account controlled by Rozalia, the court heard.
The victim was never given any of the money he earned, and instead the Siwak family fed, clothed, gave him accommodation and paid him in cider.
The victim described the clothes as "shabby", and later told police he was given leftovers rather than actual meals, that he was not allowed to get anything from the fridge and was forced to live by "gypsy" rules.
Police said in a statement: "He (the victim) was effectively kept under the complete control of the Siwak family, and regularly received beatings from both Kyrstian and Damian to ensure they retained an element of physical and mental dominance over him."
The family and the victim later moved to a new house, also in Bolton, and they continued to force him to work, often between 10 and 12 hours a day on building sites, police said.
The man ran away on several occasions, but when he was found by the Siwak family he was severely beaten and told he would be buried in a forest if he attempted to escape them again.
Police said the harsh treatment continued for many months, and "a growing alcohol dependency alongside poor meals and terrible treatment meant the 46-year-old soon became increasingly malnourished and physically weak".
In the early stages of 2015, police said the man was moved to a third Bolton address, along with two other men that the family had flown to the UK.
Police said: "They, too, were treated terribly by the family and made to work long hours, for no pay, under the constant threat of beatings and brutality. "
Police said the three men "frequently approached a neighbour to beg for food and cigarettes". The neighbour, police said, felt "sorry for them" and offered them paid work.
But when Damian and Kyrstian found out they threatened the neighbour saying "the men from that flat are under our control and any work you want them to carry out should go through us first", the court was told.
After nearly five years of suffering at the hands of these men, the victim finally managed to escape in June 2015.
On 8 June 2015, the victim fell from a ladder and broke his ankle, an injury which forced the family to take him to Royal Bolton Hospital for treatment.
Police said that while he was at the hospital staff became "concerned for the victim’s welfare", and after speaking with him, realised the abuse he had suffered, and notified police.
Hospital staff called the police and officers soon swooped to safeguard the victim and remove him from harm.
Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Mossop said: “This is a harrowing case and involves one of the longest periods of enslavement and forced labour that I have ever come across.
“I cannot imagine the mental anguish suffered by this man, spending five years of his life at the beck and call of a family intent on exploiting him to the fullest extent.
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“They worked him to the bone, day after day, week after week, month after month, never once giving him what he was owed or even treating him like a fellow human being.
“Worse still, whenever he did not do what they wanted, they beat him.
“They conditioned him to believe they were in complete control, that there was no escape.
“Such was their mental and physical dominance, that had he not suffered this injury and appeared at Royal Bolton Hospital, then I believe he would still be under their control."
Mossop said the victim's physical deterioration over five years was "startling, and their treatment left him malnourished and an alcoholic".
He said: “The cider they provided to keep him under their control was his only outlet from the pain of his day-to-day existence.
“Luckily, this man’s story does have a relatively happy ending."
Mossop said that after "superb work by our partner agencies" - such as the UK Human Trafficking Centre and the Salvation Army - the victim has now been sober for months and has "made excellent steps with his physical recovery and has started to look for paid work".
He said: “It has been a long road, but his story demonstrates that once people are identified as potential victims of modern slavery offences, systems are now in place to protect, support and nurture those people until they are back on their feet.
“I want victims to know that you will not be abandoned after coming to us for help, that your care does not stop after a successful conviction.”