1. ITV Report

Blyth takeaway owner convicted of modern slavery offences

Hargit Bariana Photo: ITV News

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”.

Hargit Bariana Credit: Northumbria Police

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.

Hargit Bariana targeted vulnerable males who were homeless. He is a very, very evil man to have exploited such vulnerable people in this way. He would force them to walk with no shoes on to his local business, where they would work for 13 hours, five, six, seven days a week. At the end of the day, their reward for working all that time for him was that they would get their shoes back, so they could walk back home. They lived in fear. He used intimidation against them to ensure that they didn't want to leave.

– Chief Inspector Helena Barron, Northumbria Police

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.