Oct. 31 (UPI) — A British man was sentenced to 40 months in prison for forcing two Polish men into slavery.
Edward Zielinski, 42, pleaded guilty to two charges of human trafficking this week after one of his victims escaped and alerted authorities. Officials said Zielinksi used violence and intimidation to control his victims and forced one of the men to make greeting cards for 20 hours a day.
Judge Gregory Dickinson QC told said Zielinski treated the victims in a “thoroughly degrading way,” according to the BBC.
“You took away their dignity as human beings, you fully exploited their vulnerability, you were able to brow beat and control them through threats and intimidation,” Dickinson said.
The enslaved greeting card maker was under Zielinski’s control between May 31, 2013 and June 1 of this year. He became involved with Zielinksi after falling into debt with Zielinski’s cousin for about £800, a little over $1,000, reported Yahoo News. He was then forced to work it off by making greeting cards and, despite earning more than £300 a week, he was only paid through alcohol and cigarettes.
The victim was able to escape twice, but each time Zielinski tracked him down.
Eventually, the victim was able to get away and tell authorities. When police searched Zielinski’s home, they found another Polish man locked in the loft.
“They were incredibly vulnerable people — unemployed, alcohol dependent, and couldn’t speak a word of English — so they were seen as perfect victims,” said Detective Sergeant Mike Ebbins.