Cumbrian man who exploited a 'slave' in his shed for up to 40 years spared jail

A Carlisle man has been spared prison for mistreating a "slave" who lived in a rotten six-foot wooden shed where he was put to work, used and exploited for up to 40 years.

Peter Swailes junior, 56, had previously admitted conspiring with others, including his late father, Peter Swailes senior, to arrange or facilitate the man’s travel with a view of exploitation.

However, Judge Richard Archer suspended a nine-month jail term for 18 months, noting that Swailes junior’s role had been limited and that his father had previously been a “controlling influence on him”.

The shed the man was found living in for 40 years. Credit: Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority

The 18-year-old victim was found in an outbuilding living quarters by specialist officers in October 2018. It contained just a chair and soiled bedding.

He had been invited to work for Swailes senior, who died last year while awaiting trial on a conspiracy charge. He had been in care up until that point.

Swailes junior had continued to exploit the man - he said he was unaware of the man’s terrible living conditions but admitted on occasion paying him as little as £10 per day for jobs which included high-risk work at height.

The second arrest after the man was found. Credit: GLAA

The man had, over time, lived in a horsebox, disused caravan and, for the five years up to 2018, the shed which had no heating, lighting or proper flooring.

This was In “stark contrast” to an adjacent shed in far better condition which housed the family dog.

Prosecutor Barbara Webster told Carlisle Crown Court "he had little understanding of the world around him" as she described how the victim was found.

"He was ill-equipped to deal with adult life, could not manage alone and had no clue as to the complexities of the value of money, wages, taxes or anything else.

"He was found by the police living in a rotten shed, with water pouring through it, with a make-shift bed, and congealed vomit in the corner."

Roof the victim fell off while working on one occasion, sustaining serious injuries. Credit: GLAA

Describing the conditions the man lived in, Ms Webster continued, “He had few possessions to show for his 40 years’ hard work. A wash bag, three second-hand coats, a few stained duvets and compact discs.

“The only food was a half-eaten pot noodle, a bowl of sweets, yoghurts and crisps. The odour of the shed was overwhelming.

“He lived with Peter Swailes senior for the last 40 years during which time he was used and exploited.

“The defendant used the victim in the same way that his late father did although it is conceded to very much a lesser extent."

The man was discovered following a tip-off.

The man was found to have an IQ of 59, which was the lowest 1% of the population.

“In some instances the defendant (Swailes junior) was paid thousands for the jobs that he did — (the victim) less than the minimum wage,” said Ms Webster.

He had been found by investigators following a tip-off.

“He was dishevelled, unkempt, wearing a jacket and jeans that were damp. He had traces of paint in his hair,” said the prosecutor.

While living with Swailes senior, he was allowed to use only the toilet and had to visit a local sports centre for showers. “He could not recall the last time he had a bath,” added Ms Webster.

Judith McCullough, defending father-of-five Swailes junior, of Low Harker, near Carlisle, said he was now in poor health.

“He is facing sentence for his role, limited as it was, in the exploitation. That is a matter of great regret for this defendant,” she said.

Addressing Swailes junior, Judge Archer said: "He was exploited by you. You may not have known the extent of (the man’s) living conditions or his precise IQ but it must have been obvious to you that he did not have any real appreciation for the potential consequences of some of the work that you required him to perform at an undervalue and with little or no regard for his personal safety."

As part of his sentence, Swailes junior must also complete a rehabilitation activity requirement for up to 25 days.