'Slave' held captive inside tiny freezing shed for 40 YEARS with no lights or heating

A MAN was held captive in a tiny 6ft freezing shed that had no heating or lights – for more than 40 years.

The man, who is now in his early 60s, lived the biggest part of his life living in a dark small wooden shed at Hadrian’s Caravan Park, north of Carlisle.

Peter Swailes Junior, 56 admitted exploiting a vulnerable worker pleading guilty to a modern slavery offence at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday, MEN reported.

Swailes was originally charged alongside his father, also called Peter Swailes – who died before standing trial.

They both previously pleaded not guilty to conspiring to arrange or facilitate the travel of an individual between 2015 and 2019 with a view to him being exploited.

Swailes, of Cryndlbeck Stables, Low Harker, Carlisle, has been released on bail and is set to appear in court for sentencing on February 4.

Senior Investigating Officer Martin Plimmer said: “First and foremost in my mind at this time though is the victim. Let’s remember that he has been exploited for all his adult life up until just a few years ago.

“He is now in his early 60s. This is something that even now I struggle to comprehend.

“For four decades, he was in effect kept as a slave.”

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The charges followed a three-year investigation by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by Cumbria Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Peter Swailes Senior said “not all this slavery thing again” during his arrest on suspicion of offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, according to cops.

Investigators carried out a search warrant at the caravan park on October 3, 2018, when they came across a 6ft green wooden shed.

After knocking on the door they found the victim told them he had lived there for 40 years.

Officers said the shed was in "poor condition," with one window that could not be fully closed and no heating.

During an interview, the victim said he worked on the farms and said was paid as little as £10 per day.

Swailes Junior was arrested in April 2019 and was later charged alongside his father.

The victim has been accepted into the government’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and now lives in supported accommodation outside of Cumbria.

GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Martin Plimmer said: “This has been a really harrowing investigation.

"In all my years in law enforcement, I have never known a modern slavery case where the exploitation has taken place over such a long period of time.

“It is pleasing to see that Swailes has finally done the right thing and pleaded guilty.

"I would like to pay tribute to the dedication and professionalism of my investigators in dealing with what has been a very complex investigation, one that has thrown up numerous challenges along the way.”

He added: “We are sadly all too aware of the fact that [the victim] will be traumatised by his experience for the rest of his life.

“I am committed to ensuring he continues to have the regular, consistent support he needs which allows him to lead as normal a life as he can in the circumstances.”

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