A modern slavery boss who ‘lived like a king’ while holding a terrified worker captive for two years has been jailed.
Janos Sztoska, 33, lured five men over from Hungary with the promise of well-paid jobs but kept almost all of the money they earned at a factory in Derbyshire – totalling more than £17,000 – to himself.
He kept one of them locked inside his home where he was forced to do chores and prodded with a 30,500-volt stun gun as a twisted form of punishment, Leicester Crown Court heard.
The victim later told police he felt like ‘the fourth dog in the house’ after being made to sleep on the floor beside Sztoska’s pets.
Sztoska, who has previous convictions for burglary and money laundering, was booted out of the UK back in 2017 but sneaked back in soon afterwards.
He arranged for the victims, all Hungarian males aged between 19 and 56 who spoke little English, to come to Leicestershire for work.
Their salaries were paid into Onepay card accounts which he controlled, handing over only ‘a fraction of what they earned’.
Prosecutor Rufus D’Cruz said of the domestic slave victim: ‘He had no access to cash and was paid in food and cigarettes – sometimes not even that.
‘He wasn’t allowed to leave the house. The defendant would lock the door and not let him out. He felt like he was in prison, being monitored by CCTV cameras.
‘If he refused to do something he would be shouted at and slapped in the face, leaving him scared, stressed and nervous.
‘His sleeping accommodation was shared with three dogs and he described himself as “the fourth dog in the household”. He wasn’t allowed to eat what, or when, he wanted.’
Neighbours said they saw the victim cleaning up outside Sztoska’s home or ‘rushing out to unload the shopping’ while he ‘strutted around like he was a king’.
One described him as being treated ‘like a bitch boy’ who looked ‘visibly scared’ when Sztoska berated him.
The offences came to light when the victims’ employment agency and the factory’s management reported concerns about the five workers to the government’s Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, sparking an investigation.
Sztoska admitted five counts of facilitating travel of a person with a view to exploitation, one count of requiring someone to perform forced or compulsory labour, one count of making or supplying articles [bogus utility bills] for use in fraud and one count of being concerned in money laundering, between October 2018 and December 2020.
He was jailed for six years and made the subject of a 10 year Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order.
Judge Robert Brown told Sztoska: ‘The treatment of your victims, in particular one of them, was deplorable.
‘He was particularly vulnerable, with learning difficulties, and you had him captive in your household for two years. When he wasn’t working in a factory he was performing chores in your home at your behest.
‘There was a high degree of deceitfulness towards all five victims as you controlled their pay cards and they were economically trapped.’
He said Sztoska, who has a partner and a small child from a different relationship, would be deported to Hungary at the end of his sentence – for the second time.
Speaking afterwards, Detective Constable Daljinder Gill said: ‘Modern slavery unfortunately remains very much ongoing across the UK today. We urge people to be aware, to spot the signs and to report any suspicions they have to us.
‘Signs include long labour hours, chaperoning, lack of personal possessions, malnutrition, and abuse.
‘Anyone who is a victim of modern slavery should also report to us. Full support and safeguarding will be provided to you and we will take action to bring offenders to justice.’