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Takeaway boss faces jail term for enslaving alcoholic tenants

Harjit Bariana, 46, was convicted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

An unscrupulous takeaway boss will be jailed for enslaving alcoholic tenants and forcing them to work at his chip shop for free.

Harjit Bariana, 46, supplied drink and drugs to vulnerable tenants of his property in Blyth, Northumberland, and fed them leftovers rather than pay them for the hours they worked, often in grim conditions.

One was forced to clear out a sewage pipe without gloves, while another had his shoes removed and was made to walk to work barefoot, police said.

Bariana, known as Harry, exploited local men and threatened or beat them if they did not comply, jurors were told during his trial at Newcastle Crown Court last month.

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Harjit Bariana was convicted of enslaving alcoholic tenants and forcing them to work at his chip shop for free (Northumbria Police/PA)

He was convicted of six modern slavery charges against four victims and supplying diazepam, with the charges relating to a period between 2014 and 2016. He was cleared of two slavery offences and of robbery.

Bariana, who has previous convictions for handling stolen goods, selling counterfeit clothes and illegal money lending, picked his victims because they were vulnerable and faced being made homeless if they did not work for him.

Bariana, of Netherton Colliery, Northumberland, told police when he was arrested that the tenants were lying.

Judge Sarah Mallett denied him bail after the trial, saying: “In the light of what I have heard about the concerns that the witnesses expressed for retribution and in the light of what I have said about the likely sentence and other consequences that will follow from that, he will have to be remanded in custody.”

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