Two brothers who trafficked vulnerable men from Poland to work in a Sports Direct warehouse have been jailed for six years each under the Modern Slavery Act.
Erwin Markowski, 38, and his brother Krystian, 35, lured 18 men from Poland to work at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse, Nottingham crown court heard.
Poor working conditions at the factory, including body searches and pay below the legal minimum were exposed by an undercover Guardian investigation in 2015.
The duo employed a “spotter” in Poland to identify vulnerable people who could be sent to the UK on the promise of work. When the men arrived, the Markowski brothers opened bank accounts on their behalf and withdrew most of their income from working at Shirebrook.
The workers, who had their passports taken from them, were left with about £90 from weekly takehome pay that should have been £265, the court heard. The brothers, who made £35,000 from the scheme, were caught after one of the victims tipped off police, triggering a raid on a home in the city.
The victim said he had been living in the house with 10 other men, who were also working at Sports Direct. Judge Steven Coupland said the men were “filled with false promises of a good life in the UK where they would be assisted […] to receive a decent job, pay and decent accommodation”.
He said the arrangement “became a planned and systematic scheme to traffic human beings into the UK in order for you to control them and benefit from their hard work, making substantial sums of money, living in good conditions while they received very little and lived in poorer conditions”.
DC Sarah Fearn of Nottinghamshire police said victims were left feeling “used, distressed and manipulated”.
QotD: “Brothers jailed for trafficking people from Poland to work at Sports Direct”