Two accused of conspiring to exploit man found 'living in a shed' to stand trial

Carlisle Crown Court Credit: Google Maps

A grandfather and his son are to stand trial early next year accused of plotting to exploit a man who was removed from a six-foot north Cumbria shed where it is believed he may have lived for several decades.

Peter Swailes senior, aged 80, and 55-year-old Peter Swailes junior are each alleged to have been involved in a criminal agreement to exploit a worker.

They have been brought to court as part of a probe into alleged “modern slavery” offending carried out by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by Cumbria police and the National Crime Agency.

The charge faced by Swailes senior and junior alleges they “conspired together and with others” to arrange or facilitate the travel of another with a view to exploitation. 

This is said to have occurred between 31st July, 2015, and 25th April, 2019, and is alleged to have involved the exploitation of a man aged in his 50s who, investigators have previously stated, may have lived in the shed north of Carlisle for up to 40 years.

Hadrian's Camp at Houghton. Credit: ITV Border

During a half-hour “plea and trial preparation” hearing at the city’s crown court on Tuesday, Peter Swailes senior and Peter Swailes junior both pleaded not guilty when the allegation was put to them by a clerk. The men appeared remotely, over separate video links, speaking to confirm their identities and formally indicate their denials.

Swailes senior, of Hadrian Park, Brampton Old Road, Carlisle, and Swailes junior, of Low Harker, Carlisle, are now due to stand trial in front of a jury at the crown court from 17th January next year. It is estimated that hearing will last around three weeks with evidence from the alleged victim in the case set to be pre-recorded.

In the meantime, both defendants were told their unconditional bail would continue by Judge Nicholas Barker, who directed that a further case management hearing should take place at the court in December.

He also reminded the pair to co-operate with the preparation of formal statements setting out their defence to the charge and issues they take with the prosecution case.

The man at the centre of the investigation was found and removed from a six-foot shed by GLAA investigators in October, 2018, to receive specialist support. The court heard today he is now living “outside of Carlisle”.