The heartbreaking story of a man forced to live like a 'slave' in a plastic shed in Kirkby

A man who was forced to live in a plastic shed in Kirkby for a year has shared his story in the hope that nobody else will ever have to experience what he went through.

The plastic shed Chris Chapman was forced to live in.
The plastic shed Chris Chapman was forced to live in.

Chris Chapman was forced to live like a 'slave' after his ex and her new partner threatened him with homelessness if he did not follow a set of 'rules' drafted by them.

Julie Marsden, 55, was sentenced to 16 months in prison at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to coercive and controlling behaviour at a previous hearing.

Inside the plastic shed Chris Chapman was forced to live in.

Her new partner, driver Gary Cooper, 53, was jailed for 15 months after he pleaded guilty to intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.

A restraining order was granted to stop Marsden and Cooper interacting with Chris in the future.

The court heard that Chris had formed a relationship with Marsden in 2009.

At that time, Chris owned his own home outright and was a sound and lighting technician for touring bands including Trivium and Vampires of Rock.

Inside the plastic shed Chris Chapman was forced to live in.

Chris said: "I was getting near to 50 and I wanted a family.

"I'd never really had that before and Julie offered me the chance of having one.

"I met her through work and we got on well.

"Things moved very quickly from there - she even proposed to me at one point."

Chris eventually moved to Malborough Road with Marsden, who convinced him to sell his home to supplement their lifestyle, as she did not work.

After a few months, Marsden explained to Chris that she wanted an open relationship.

Chris was then made to sleep under the stairs.

Chris believes their relationship began to sour once his money ran out.

"I had a constant fear of homelessness and she knew that," he said.

"People ask 'how do you let yourself live like that?'

"I'd say 'my fear of having nothing and being out on the streets was the main reason'."

Marsden's new partner, Cooper, who moved in with her and Chris in 2017, then encouraged Chris to move to the shed.

Chris was then subjected to what he describes as a 'humiliating' existence.

Forced to live by a set of rules - which included giving all of his income to Marsden, cleaning inside the address, only being allowed to leave the house on weekends and using a bucket for a toilet - he feels as though he was stripped of his dignity.

Chris said: "My situation could have happened to anyone.

"I had no idea what I was going through at the time.

"It happened so slowly over a long period.

"There are no words to describe what it felt like to live like that.

"Using a bucket to go to the toilet in a plastic shed that you're sleeping in through boiling hot summers and freezing winters has had a lasting impact on me.

"I was not allowed use the bathroom and had to shower using a bowl and cold water from a tap outside.

"They would control my access to electricity and turn it off via a plug inside.

"I had no control over anything at all and no money to escape the situation - I felt totally trapped."

Officers from Nottinghamshire Police were alerted to Chris' situation after a neighbour saw Chris being assaulted by Cooper.

An officer then visited Malborough Road after questioning Chris and found the shed, looked inside and saw the horrendous conditions he was living in.

Detective Sergeant Mike Ebbins, from Nottinghamshire Police's Modern Slavery Team, said: "We investigated this case as modern slavery from the very beginning.

"Chris went through the National Referral Mechanism to determine the appropriate level of support and we felt that his case had all the hallmarks of modern slavery.

"The misconception of modern slavery is that this problem solely affects foreign nationals who are brought into the country to work but end up in very poor conditions.

"This case clearly highlights the truth of the problem - that victims come from any background and that this can truly happen to anyone.

"It was truly unbelievable and, hopefully with the case now closed, he can start to move forward with his life."

Despite what happened to him, Chris bears no ill will towards Marsden and Cooper.

He said: "I have lost absolutely everything.

"All my possessions were inside that shed and they've gone.

"I hope that this never happens to anyone else.

"If I can share my message and let people know that they are never alone and that there is help out there, then that is something positive to take from this experience.

"The work that Nottinghamshire police have done for me has been fantastic.

"I cannot fault any of the support I have had from our services at all.

"I have to start again now and I have to be hopeful about the future."

If you are going through a situation like Chris or feel that you know of someone in need of police support, call Nottinghamshire Police on 101.