Slave kept in dark 6ft shed with no heat in freezing temperatures for 40 years

A man has admitted to exploiting a vulnerable victim who told investigators he had lived in a shed for 40 years.

Peter Swailes Jr, 56, pleaded guilty at Carlisle Crown Court on Tuesday ahead of his scheduled modern slavery trial.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to conspiring with his father, Peter Swailes, 80, to arrange or facilitate the travel of an individual between 2015 and 2019 with a view to him being exploited.

His father, from Carlisle, denied the same charge but died last year.

The charges come after a three-year investigation by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by Cumbria Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

A man had been found living in a 6ft shed on a residential site north of Carlisle, prompting investigation.

GLAA and NCA officers found a soiled duvet on the floor, a metered television and a lack of heating in the cramped conditions of the shed.

The GLAA said upon knocking on the door of the shed they were greeted by a dishevelled and agitated man who told officers he had lived there for 40 years.

The victim, in his late 50s, said he worked on farms, painting, slating and tarmacking and was paid as little as £10 a day.

He has now received specialist help and lives in supported accommodation outside Cumbria.

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Martin Plimmer, a senior investigating officer at GLAA, said: "I would like to pay tribute to the dedication and professionalism of my investigators in dealing with what has been a very complex investigation, one that has thrown up numerous challenges along the way.

"First and foremost in my mind at this time though is the victim. We are sadly all too aware of the fact that he will be traumatised by his experience for the rest of his life.

"I am committed to ensuring he continues to have the regular, consistent support he needs which allows him to lead as normal a life as he can in the circumstances.

Swailes Jr. was bailed until sentencing on February 4.

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