By Kris Jepson
A takeaway owner, who was described in court as “unscrupulous” and by police as "evil", has been found guilty of six modern day slavery charges relating to four victims, and one count of supplying drugs, between 2010 and 2016.
During the trial the jury heard how Hargit Bariana, 46, from Blyth, Northumberland, took advantage of vulnerable homeless people and made them work for free, fed them scraps of leftover food and fuelled their addictions by supplying them with drink and drugs.
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Residents in the local community realised over time there was something suspicious going on at Mr Bariana’s property, with reports of anti-social behaviour and drugs activity made. This led to raids on the property.
Northumbria Police said they found the enslaved males who were "very timid, very fearful" and living in “squalid conditions”.
The victims were all white British men, which the lead investigator said should challenge peoples’ perceptions of these types of cases, which have previously predominantly seen victims trafficked from abroad.
Mr Bariana, who was known to his victims as “Barry”, took their housing benefits from them as rent, and charged them extra, the jury heard.
The court heard his property had no locks on the doors, so he could enter whenever he wanted, and between 2011 and 2016 he made no Inland Revenue returns and “did not do” paperwork for his businesses.
The police said he preyed upon his victims’ vulnerabilities and addictions, by “offering them a roof over their head” and feeding their addictions.