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Modern slavery conviction after vulnerable man found living in a cupboard – Bristol

Bristol Crown Court
Bristol Crown Court

A man and woman have today, Thursday 7 February, been convicted of offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

A jury at Bristol Crown Court found Ion Boboc, 26, and Christiana Tudor-Dobre, 24, both of St Annes, guilty of requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and fraud. They will be sentenced in March.

A third man, Mihai-Aurel Dan, aged 36, was acquitted of similar charges.

The court heard that the 31-year-old victim was a vulnerable man who slept in a cupboard under the stairs.

He told officers he regarded the defendants as ‘family’. However he said he was not allowed to use the bathroom or the kitchen table. He ate and washed himself, his clothes and his dishes outside. Witnesses reported seeing him drinking from a hosepipe in the garden.

The jury also heard that the victim was filmed carrying out tasks set by the defendants. The court saw footage of the victim being made to eat highly spiced food. They also filmed him being ordered to dance and carry out physical challenges. The defendants were recorded mocking and laughing at him. Boboc and Tudor-Dobre controlled the victim’s money and took out loans and contracts for mobile phones and other services in his name.

How did this come to light?

An anonymous call to the Modern Slavery Helpline in July 2018 alerted us to the case.

As a result of the information officers carried out a safeguarding visit to a property in the St Anne’s area of Bristol on Friday 27 July. We arrested two men and a woman from the address.

The vulnerable man is now in a place of safety, getting appropriate support.

Ben Samples, District Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “I would like to commend the victim for the incredible strength and bravery he showed in giving evidence and supporting the prosecution, despite the degrading treatment he suffered at the hands of the Defendants.

“I would also like to thank the members of the public who contacted the police with their concerns. Modern slavery often takes place out of sight, and it is only with the support of such witnesses that we will defeat it in the UK.

“Finally, I would like to give credit to Avon and Somerset Police, who acted swiftly following the report and built a strong case against the Defendants, working in partnership with the CPS South West Complex Case Unit.”

Officer in the case PC Roger Ibrahim said: “Without the information through the Modern Slavery Helpline this abuse would still be happening. When we found this man he appeared underfed and was suffering from sores on his feet. No one should be treated in this way.

“We’re very grateful to the anonymous person who alerted us to this situation. If you’re worried that someone is being subjected to modern day slavery, please contact us. You can call 101 or ring the helpline number 08000 121 700.”

How can you help if you’re concerned about someone?

We launched our #TellUsWhatYouSee campaign last year to educate our communities on the signs and indicators of modern day slavery and how to report it. Find out more here

The public play a huge role in our fight to tackle this sort of exploitation. Communities are our eyes and ears and your information could be vital.

Report information on suspected modern slavery via 101, online or anonymously through the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700.