Man avoids jail in 'slavery' case
A 30-year-old man has been sentenced for using "degrading, controlling and bullying" behaviour to force a man to carry out work for him, according to police.
Zydrunas Zdanevicius, from Lithuania, was found guilty of an offence of forced labour against a fellow Lithuanian man and sentenced to 21 months in prison suspended for two years.
Southampton Crown Court was told that Zdanevicius would beat his victim and withhold his wages to force him to continue working for him delivering leaflets and collecting charity bags.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: "The judge accepted that Zdanevicius, of Cornel Road, Southampton, used degrading, controlling and bullying behaviour, including withholding wages, to force the man to work excessive hours."
The defendant was arrested following a police investigation into slavery offences and a number of vulnerable people, including the 25-year-old victim and another 24-year-old man, were taken to a reception area and referred to the UK Human Trafficking Centre.
The police spokesman said: "The pair had travelled from Lithuania in the hope of finding work in the UK. In a ploy known as debt bonding, it is likely they were told they would get free travel, but that they would have to pay back the money.
"They ended up working for Zdanevicius seven days a week delivering and collecting charity bags and living with other people at an address.
"The 25-year-old told the court he was beaten by Zdanevicius at the address and unfairly treated by him because he wasn't delivering enough leaflets."
Detective Inspector Phil Scrase said: "It was an extremely complex investigation involving a huge amount of work and a large number of inquiries dealing with very vulnerable and exploited individuals.
"These two brave young men felt that their situation was untenable and they left and raised the alarm with the authorities."
Mr Scrase added: "It's not always obvious that someone is being exploited. There may be certain signs, for example they may be held in difficult conditions, they may be doing a very poorly paid job, they may be from a foreign country, they may be from this country. So if people do have concerns, I would encourage them to contact the authorities."