Chip shop boss used home­less men as slaves to work 13hr days – and fed them leftovers

Daily Mail - - One Day To Go ... - By Chris Brooke

A RUTH­LESS busi­ness­man faces jail for keep­ing vul­ner­a­ble home­less men as slaves and mak­ing them work 13- hour days while feed­ing them on chip shop leftovers.

Har­git Bar­i­ana, 46, ex­ploited white Bri­tish men with drink and drug ad­dic­tions ‘on the bot­tom’ of so­ci­ety.

He made tens of thou­sands of pounds by forc­ing his vic­tims to hand over their hous­ing ben­e­fit.

He also put them in squalid shared ac­com­mo­da­tion, con­trol­ling them with threats and mak­ing them work in his two takeaways with­out pay.

One vic­tim had his shoes con­fis­cated to stop him from run­ning away at night and was forced to walk a mile to work bare­foot. Only af­ter a long shift were they re­turned to him so he could walk home.

An­other told po­lice he had to ‘clear sewage pipes with his bare hands for six hours and all he got at the end was food scraps’.

Bar­i­ana, of Nether­ton, Northum­ber­land, de­nied the of­fences at New­cas­tle Crown Court, but was con­victed of six mod­ern slav­ery charges of mak­ing an­other per­son per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour against four vic­tims, and of sup­ply­ing di­azepam.

Af­ter the ver­dicts were re­turned by jurors on Wed­nes­day, Judge Sarah Mal­lett re­manded Bar­i­ana in cus­tody and warned him that he faced jail when he is sen­tenced next month. He has pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for han­dling stolen goods, sell­ing coun­ter­feit clothes and il­le­gal money lend­ing.

Chief In­spec­tor He­lena Bar­ron, of Northum­bria Po­lice, said Bar­i­ana ‘ex­ploited the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of his com­mu­nity in the most ab­hor­rent way imag­in­able’.

Bar­i­ana, who lived com­fort­ably in a big house, promised home­less men ‘a bet­ter life, a roof over their head and em­ploy­ment’. In­stead they be­came slaves. She added: ‘What he ac­tu­ally did was take their ben­e­fits and use these men for his own pur­poses and profit. His ac­tions were de­spi­ca­ble.’

Po­lice found the vic­tims in a ‘fear­ful’ state when they raided his prop­erty in Blyth, Northum­ber­land, where the men lived.

The rooms had no locks so that Bar­i­ana could en­ter when­ever he wanted, there was no food in the house, rub­bish was piled up out­side and the oc­cu­pants, who can­not be iden­ti­fied for le­gal rea­sons, were forced to sleep on bare mat­tresses or bed bases.

Al­co­holics were given a £3 bot­tle of cider or a cheap bot­tle of wine or liqueur – which they had to pay for – to feed their ad­dic­tion af­ter a long day’s work at the take­away. Bar­i­ana also sup­plied his slaves with drugs.

One 43-year- old man said he worked ev­ery day for five months in the two takeaways in Blyth and Sun­der­land.

He paid Bar­i­ana £76 hous­ing ben­e­fit plus £20 a week from other ben­e­fits in rent for a room af­ter he was re­leased from prison.

The man said he only had two days off in five months, one of which was to at­tend a fu­neral. His re­ward for work­ing was leftovers af­ter a long­shift at the chip shop.

An­other worked ten hours a day for about four weeks be­fore com­plain­ing to his pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer and get­ting moved out.

The charges re­late to of­fences from 2014 to 2016, but po­lice be­lieve other vic­tims were en­slaved over sev­eral years.

Chief In­spec­tor Bar­ron added: ‘Peo­ple have a pre-con­ceived idea of mod­ern slav­ery – peo­ple be­ing traf­ficked into the coun­try from abroad. But these were white Bri­tish men who had lived all or most of their lives in the North East. This can hap­pen any­where.

‘In this case we be­lieve there may have been other vic­tims go­ing back a num­ber of years.’

Cal­lous: Slave-driver Har­git Bar­i­ana, 46

Squalid: Men slept on bare mat­tresses

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