Two brothers who arranged for vulnerable people to travel to the UK before stealing the majority of their wages have each been jailed for six years today (23 January).
Erwin and Krystian Markowski identified targets in their native Poland with the help of ‘spotters’ - offering travel, work and accommodation. The people they targeted were generally jobless or in need of money.
The victims received coach tickets and were then housed in squalid accommodation in Nottingham before being taken to an employment agency in Mansfield. Through the agency they were given warehouse work in Derbyshire.
Travel documents were taken from the people on arrival, who were then helped by the defendants to open bank accounts. Their bank cards were seized by the Markowskis and they were given only around a third of their wages by the brothers, generally £90 of their earnings of approximately £265 a week. The defendants kept the difference for themselves.
By taking control of their finances and communications, and by sometimes threatening violence, the brothers were able to exert total control over the victims.
In total, around 18 victims are thought to have been exploited in this way during 2015 and early 2016.
At Nottingham Crown Court today, the defendants pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to arrange travel with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. They were later sentenced to six years each for the former count and two and a half years for the latter, to run concurrently. A charge of conspiracy to require a person to perform forced labour was left to lie on file.
Janine Smith, Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS East Midlands, said:
“The Markowskis preyed on vulnerable people in Poland and promised them accommodation and a tempting wage in order to lure them to the UK.
“The reality upon arrival was a life of squalid living conditions and near total control by the defendants.
“Modern slavery is a global issue that often goes unseen, but prosecutors and police are determined to take all possible steps to hold those responsible to account, regardless of borders.
“In this instance, the CPS was able to build a case that left the defendants with no option but to admit their guilt.”