A 42-year-old man has today been jailed for 40 months for two modern slavery offences.
Edward Zielinski, of Birkin Avenue, Hyson Green, exploited two vulnerable Polish nationals, using violence to control their ID documents and forcing them to work for little or no money.
Zielinski would even lock his victims in the loft during the night forcing them to urinate in plastic bottles rather than wake him and his wife.
The first victim came to the UK of his own accord in 2008 and initially lived in London but got into debt with Zielinski’s cousin, owing £700-800 for the cost of a new passport and other bills. He was sent to Nottingham to work for Zielinski to pay off the debt.
When he arrived at Brushfield Street, Radford, he was put to work making greetings cards, working up to 20 hours a day from 8am to 4am with only limited breaks. He was often threatened with violence and even beaten if Zielinski didn’t think he was working hard enough.
In 2015, he moved with Zielinski to Glentworth Road, Radford, and started working for employment agencies
Zielinski opened a bank account in his name but did not allow him access to the cards.
Despite earning around £300 a week he was only paid with cigarettes, alcohol, the occasional piece of clothing from a car boot sale and £10 in cash. At times when he lost his job he was forced by Zielinski to go out stealing.
The victim twice tried to escape, unsuccessfully, but through fear of violence he returned after Zielinski tracked him down by contacting his employers. But after being beaten with a plank of wood in January 2016, he decided he could take no more and successfully escaped, making himself homeless.
Months later Nottinghamshire Police’s modern slavery team was made aware of this first victim through a national referral mechanism and visited him at a detention centre at Gatwick. They then provided him with safe secure accommodation and access to interpreters where his full account was provided.
A warrant was later conducted by the team at Zielinski’s latest home in Birkin Avenue, Hyson Green on 31 May 2017, leading to the discovery of a second victim sleeping on the floor of the loft, using a jacket as a blanket (as seen in the police body-worn video footage).
This victim had moved to Nottingham in 2015 and needed accommodation, and heard through a friend that Zielinski had a spare room. But Zielinski took advantage of him, forcing him to work without control of his own finances, being given just £70 a week.
Both victims are now with the Salvation Army charity receiving support.
The offences took place between 31 May 2013 and 1 June 2017, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
Zielinski had initially denied the two charges of human trafficking but pleaded guilty to the offences on Wednesday 18 October. Today (Monday 30 October) he was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Detective Sergeant Mike Ebbins, who led the investigation, said: “The first victim was made to work up to 20 hours a day from 8am to 4am with only limited breaks earning only £10 a week for his efforts.
“The other victim was the cash cow for Zielinski so was allowed access to a bedroom and avoided being assaulted.
“But in both cases Zielinski exploited them for his own financial interests.
“He saw an opportunity to make money out of vulnerable Polish men. They were incredibly vulnerable people - unemployed, alcohol dependent, and couldn’t speak a word of English – so they were seen as perfect victims.
“A lot of hard work has been put in by the human trafficking team and it is great news that he has pleaded guilty because it means his victims haven’t had to face him at trial.
“The victims should be applauded for coming forward. Hopefully it will give other victims out there confidence in Nottinghamshire Police to get a result for them.”
Anyone who would like to report suspicions about modern slavery should call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or call Nottinghamshire Police on 101.