A vulnerable man who was kept as a slave in a tiny 6ft shed for 40 years without heating or lighting is finally free.
The victim, now in his early 60s, has been left ‘traumatised’ after spending most of his life held in captivity.
He told how he survived with little more than a soiled duvet and a metered television for comfort during the decades-long ordeal at a residential site, north of Carlisle, Cumbria.
He washed using a kitchen sink in a building next to his hut – found in a worse state than another shed used by a dog to sleep in.
The man said he was paid just £10 a day to do manual labour including farm work, painting, slating and tarmacking.
Defendant Peter Swailes Jr, 56, admitted exploiting the victim at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday, ahead of a trial.
He had previously denied conspiring with his dad, Peter Swailes, 80, to arrange or facilitate the travel of an individual between 2015 and 2019 with a view to him being exploited.
Swailes Snr, from Carlisle, denied the same charge but died last year.
The charges were brought to court following a three-year investigation by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by Cumbria Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Investigators found the victim, who has not been identified, in a dishevelled and agitated state.
He said he had been living in the shed for the past 40 years.
The man received specialist help after he was rescued.
He is now living outside Cumbria in supported accommodation.
GLAA senior investigating officer, Martin Plimmer, described the ‘very complex’ investigation as ‘really harrowing’ with ‘numerous challenges’.
He and colleagues have vowed to ensure the victim continues to receive regular support to help him lead as normal a life as he can in the circumstances.
‘First and foremost in my mind at this time though is the victim, Mr Plimmer said.
‘Let’s remember that he has been exploited for all his adult life up until just a few years ago. He is now in his early 60s.
‘This is something that even now I struggle to comprehend. For four decades, he was in effect kept as a slave.
‘We are sadly all too aware of the fact that he will be traumatised by his experience for the rest of his life.’
Swailes Jr, of Cryndlbeck Stables, Low Harker, Carlisle, has been bailed until he is due to be sentenced on February 4.