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