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Human trafficker kept men as slaves
2:09pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in News
A ''physical and mental bully'' from Hampshire has been jailed for six years and three months for trafficking four men to the UK and exploiting them to work as slaves for him.
Dawid Siwak, 30, originally from Poland, was found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court of four offences of people trafficking and four charges of holding a person in servitude.
Barnaby Shaw, prosecuting, said the facts of the case resembled ''a Charles Dickens novel''.
Sentencing Siwak, Judge Roger Hetherington said of the victims: ''They felt they were trapped and they were trapped by a combination of enforced poverty, intermittent violence and threats of violence against them and a general feeling of helplessness with no-one to turn to for help.
''The best way I can describe it is systematic bullying of vulnerable individuals so you could feather your own nest.''
He told Siwak, of Nelson Road, Southsea: ''You are a physical and mental bully.''
The court heard that although the victims came willingly from Poland to the UK, Siwak subjected them to violence and threats forcing them to obey his commands and hand over their wages to him.
The trial was told that Siwak housed the four men in crowded flats in Portsmouth between June 2011 and May 2012.
He ordered them to work in legitimate jobs such as salad packing but made the men hand over their bank cards which he used to take their earnings.
He also banned them from socialising with people outside of Siwak's knowledge and approval.
Mr Shaw said: ''The victims were vulnerable people who were in financially-straitened circumstances before coming to this country, people once they were in this country who had no financial autonomy, people who had no command of the language of this country and no knowledge of the local area.
''They were made more vulnerable by the circumstances in which he demanded they live.''
Mr Shaw described how Siwak would use violence to control the four men, including on one occasion assaulting one of them, breaking his ribs.
He added: ''There was an atmosphere of intimidation, an atmosphere where their independence was removed from them, they were at his beck and call to do as he wished.''
Mr Shaw said that as well as taking their wages, he would further ''exploit'' them by forcing the men to take out loans which he would take, gym memberships for himself and mobile phones which he would then sell.
He would only give them a small amount of money to cover essentials such as tobacco.
The court heard that Siwak had previous convictions in Poland of three offences of robbery for which he served prison sentences.
In the UK, he has been convicted of two offences of battery and one of criminal damage.
The latest offence involved him kicking a car's wing mirror off after the female motorist sounded their horn at him for walking slowly in front of the car. He also swore and spat at the victim and her father.
Siwak was sentenced to six years' imprisonment to run concurrent for each of the eight offences and three months consecutive for breaching a conditional discharge given for the previous criminal damage and battery offence.
His wife, Roza Urbanowic, 34, was cleared at trial of four counts of holding a person in servitude.
Speaking after the hearing, James Kellam, CPS crown advocate, said: ''This case is an awful tale of exploitation.
''Mr Siwak was recruiting workers from Poland with false promises that they could expect a decent life and decent pay working in the United Kingdom.
''However, their dreams of a better life were quickly shattered when they started to realise they were being exploited.
''One of the victims in his statement said that Siwak told him that if he would not work his arms and legs would be broken and he would be taken to Poland in a cardboard box.
''He had nowhere to go, no money and job and felt he had no choice but to stay there with no control over his life and feeling like a prisoner.
''This human trafficking was finally exposed when one of the victims managed to escape in January 1012 and reported the crimes against him and his companions to the police.''