Man ‘kept as a slave’ for 40 years now enjoys watching football and old World Cups, says charity | UK News

A man freed after being “kept as a slave” for 40 years is now enjoying going for walks, watching football and catching up on the World Cups he has missed, according to a charity.

The victim, known only as Chris, was forced to live in squalid conditions in a 6ft by 4ft shed at a Carlisle caravan park, and had to be taught how to cook his own food and take care of his own basic needs after being found.

He was discovered by Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) investigators during a search warrant at the site in October 2018 following a tip-off from a member of the public.

City Hearts, which has been supporting Chris since his ordeal, allocated him a bed at a safe house where he was taught to cook and use a washing machine.

The shed in which a slave was kept for 40 years
Officers found Chris living in this shed after a tip-off from a member of the public

‘He was timid and scared’

Staff from the charity said it quickly became apparent that he was illiterate and did not communicate in a typical way.

His caseworker Kyle France said: “He was exhausted when he arrived. He was timid and scared, like a deer in headlights. He didn’t realise the severity of what had happened to him.

“When he first arrived, sorting out his hygiene was a priority.

“It was clear he hadn’t had a wash in a very, very long time. He needed a shave, he needed clothes. He just really needed looking after.”

The charity’s chief executive, Ed Newton, told Sky News: “He’s accessing speech and language support. He’s doing really well, and he talks about being really proud of his accomplishments.”

He added: “There are over 130,000 survivors or victims of modern slavery in the UK today.

“One of the key things for us to realise is that this could be round the corner. This could be the shed that backs on to our garden, to our property. And to realise that very often now, modern slavery victims aren’t in chains – they’re hidden in plain sight.”

Peter Swailes entered a guilty plea
Peter Swailes has been handed a nine-month sentence suspended for 18 months

Man gets nine-month suspended sentence

It comes after a man was handed a nine-month sentence suspended for 18 months on Friday for paying Chris, who has learning difficulties, below the minimum wage.

Peter Swailes, 56, and his 81-year-old father, also called Peter Swailes, were arrested by the GLAA in April 2019 for trafficking and modern slavery crimes.

Both men pleaded not guilty to arranging or facilitating the travel of an individual between 2015 and 2019 with a view to him being exploited.

However, the older Peter Swailes died last year before standing trial.

His son went on to plead guilty to the charge at Carlisle Crown Court on 18 January this year before this trial was due to begin.

A judge told him on Friday: “You are not being sentenced on the basis that you kept (Chris) as a slave for 40 years, or indeed that you were responsible for his living conditions at all.

“The extent of your culpability is that with the assistance of your father, and on a limited number of occasions, you facilitated the travel of (Chris) for work purposes, and on occasion paid him less than his minimum entitlement.”

The exploitation of Chris began when he was 15 following a childhood in the care system.

He told City Hearts he was kept padlocked inside the shed when he wasn’t working, had no access to a shower or heating, and his only toilet was a bucket.

He told officers from the GLAA he did farm work, painting, slating and tarmacking, and was paid as little as £10 per day.

Peter Swailes Junior leaving Carlisle Crown Court
Peter Swailes, 56, is seen leaving Carlisle Crown Court in January

During one of his painting jobs, Chris fell from a ladder and broke his back and ribs.

He was taken to hospital, but was removed by those who held him captive before being discharged and dragged back to his life of exploitation.

Martin Plimmer, senior investigating officer on the GLAA investigation, said he had “never known a modern slavery case where the exploitation has taken place over such a long period of time”.

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

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