A landlord trafficked a vulnerable man to Nottingham and forced him to work to fund his lavish lifestyle, a court heard.
Sajmon Brzezinski also tricked another vulnerable man - who considered himself a member of his family after being taken from an orphanage - into handing over most of the money he earned.
Both of the men worked full time but were given allowances of just £20 to £30 a week. Meanwhile, Brzezinski’s home in Poland was a “palace” with 50 windows, and he owned more than five cars and four properties in Nottingham - despite not having worked for the last five years, the court heard.
Brzezinski admitted human trafficking and two counts of forced labour in relation to the first man and fraud in relation to the other when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court today (Monday, June 5). He will be sentenced at the same court on Thursday, June 15.
The court was told the first man, who met Brzezinski at a building site in Poland, had been offered travel to the UK for £60 so he could find work in 2011 or 2012, but when he arrived he was told he owed £2,000 and had to work to pay it off.
Brzezinski, 43, set up bank accounts for the 38-year-old, which his wages were paid into, but he kept his bank card so he couldn’t access the money.
Despite working for up to 60 hours a week for wages up to £480, Brzezinski only gave him £20 to £30 to live on, and pocketed the rest. He told him this was because he owed him for accommodation at his home in Overdale Road, Old Basford, and utility bills. He also had to pay for his own food and could only buy his clothes and furniture from him from those “wages.”
The victim said he was scared of Brzezinski, telling police he was “dangerous” and had “hurt lots of people” because of money.
The court was told the other victim travelled to the UK with Brzezinski’s family in 2006 and had handed over responsibility for his finances to Brzezinski. However, the 44-year-old didn’t understand why he worked so hard and had so little money to live on. He too was only given about £20 a week to live on, the court heard, while Brzezinski took £106,000 from him over six years.
Both of the men had worked at Sports Direct, Shirebrook, before working at Hammond Produce, a farm in Redhill.
The court heard the offences against both men by Brzezinski came to light when the trafficking victim opened up to a colleague at the Hammond Produce staff Christmas party - one of the few times he had been allowed out by Brzezinski. A supervisor at the company took the correct steps to report the concerns and the investigation was launched by Nottinghamshire Police and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).
Detective Constable Claire Reilly, Officer in the Case, said: “This investigation began after a concerned co-worker raised the alarm about the wellbeing of one of the victims. It quickly became apparent that both men had suffered terribly at the hands of Sajmon Brzezinski.
“Due to their backgrounds both men were very vulnerable to exploitation and one in particular had been discovered in an orphanage in Poland by Brzezinski and his associates as a child. Once in the United Kingdom, Brzezinski was able to live a very comfortable life without having to work, as he controlled the wages of the men and gave them about £20 per week to survive whilst keeping the rest for himself.
“This type of crime is one of the worst that exists in modern society and what is often most shocking is that it is happening in the midst of our towns and cities and is hidden in plain sight. I would ask that anybody who has any concerns that a person may be being exploited in this way contact the police.
“This incident was investigated in close partnership with the GLAA, the National Crime Agency and Nottingham City Council and I would like to thank these agencies for their help and support.”
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “We need to work with our partners in both the public and private sectors to tackle the issue. We must make sure that people are aware of the signs, encourage them to report their suspicions and respond appropriately. That sends the strongest message that exploitation will not be tolerated.”
Paul Broadbent, chief executive of the GLAA, said: “When commenting on cases like this we often say that modern slavery is taking place right on our doorsteps and, for a Nottingham-based organisation like ourselves, that proved to be the case.
“Though the ruthless exploitation of workers, away from their place of employment, was abhorrent, the prompt action by those at Hammond Produce was exemplary and should be highly praised.
“This was modern slavery being discovered by the supply chain and not in it, as is often the case. The farm supervisor had been trained by GLAA officers to spot the signs of labour abuse, recognised them instantly and called us in.
“We were able to remove the victims from their position of exploitation swiftly and effectively, before allowing our colleagues at Notts Police to move in and secure an excellent conviction.
“I would urge anyone else who suspects someone in their workplace could be a victim to contact us in confidence on 0800 432 0804.”