Polish slavery 'lieutenant' used open borders to exploit

David Zielinski, who built a luxurious villa in Poland with the proceeds of slave labour, has been sentenced to four years in prison by Bradford’s crown court.

Zielinski and a gang of traffickers brought desperate people from Poland to Bradford with the promise of a better life, but when they arrived, they were forced to sleep on the floor in squalid conditions without proper heating or bathroom facilities.

Victims said they were treated like dogs and faced severe beatings if they tried to escape. The gang stole thousands of pounds from the workers, leaving many of them with just £5 a day from their pay packets.

The presiding judge told Zielinski:

“We heard evidence of the luxurious villa your family owned in Poland, financed no doubt by the forced labour of these men and women. And this, of course, was the object of the exercise – the enslavement of vulnerable men and women for your own financial greed,”

Speaking through an interpreter, Zielinski told the court the victims had made the story up.

Zielinski was convicted of two offences of trafficking under the 2015 Modern Slavery Act and a charge of conspiracy to require another person to perform compulsory labour.

Nine other men involved in the crime are still at large.