Victim was trafficked from Poland and forced into slavery
Two members of a Bowes Park family who enslaved a Polish woman and forced her to sleep in their garden shed have been jailed.
Four family members in total were sentenced last week at Reading Crown Court after they had all been found guilty over their roles in holding the victim captive at their home in Tottenhall Road, following a seven-week trial last December.
The court heard how the victim, a woman aged in her 40s, came from a poor family in Poland and found herself working in factories or on the land. In 2014, she was approached with a promise of work in England and in October 2014 was brought over by minibus on the understanding she would work as a paid carer for Izabela Dytlow.
The victim worked for the family at addresses in Birmingham as well as Enfield for more than five years, in conditions which amounted to modern slavery. These included being made to work long hours, seven days a week, without pay. The promised wages never materialised and in the end she stopped asking for them.
She was made to sleep in a garden shed, or under a blanket on the floor, sometimes in unsanitary conditions. She was kept isolated and was not allowed to use a phone or contact her family.
Her Polish identification card was kept from her, which was the only documentation she had. Her identity was also misused by the family for financial gain.
On 8th September 2019, local officers attended the family’s Tottenhall Road address as a result of concerns for the victim. Neighbours had reported to police the conditions the victim was living in and seeing her out on the streets most days cleaning the family cars, for a full day in all weathers.
The officers identified themselves to the victim and asked her for identification. Izabela Dytlow was present and informed the officers that the victim did not live at the address, but was visiting “auntie”. The victim did not speak English.
Through a police interpretation service the victim denied being forced to work or being held against her will. Local environmental protection officers also spoke with the victim in September 2019, but again she denied being held against her will.
Detectives from the Met’s modern slavery unit took over the investigation and attended the address on 7th May 2020. Together with a Polish-speaking officer they spoke with the victim and she initially denied there was anything wrong but, after a long exchange, admitted she was not earning any money.
Eventually, officers persuaded the victim to leave the address for a period of reflection. In the police car she told the officers: “It’s like a dream, I cannot believe I am now free.”
When officers brought her a coffee she was visibly overwhelmed – no-one had brought her a coffee before.
It was later established that Izabela took the victim to get a National Insurance number upon arrival to the country. She had signed documents but had no understanding of what they were. She was told it was for her own wellbeing.
Izabela Dytlow, 47, was convicted of one count of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation, three counts of holding a person in servitude and four counts of fraud by false representation. She was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment.
Andrzej Kasparowicz, 63, was convicted of three counts of holding a person in servitude, two counts of fraud by false representation and one count of money laundering. He was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment.
Szanel Dytlow, 19, was convicted on one count of holding a person in servitude and was sentenced to 16 months in custody, suspended for two years, plus 180 hours of unpaid work.
Kamil Wesolowski, 22, was convicted of one count of holding a person in servitude and was sentenced to twelve months in custody, suspended for two years, plus 120 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation activity.
Detective Constable Petra Williams said: “This was a lengthy investigation which revealed numerous crimes committed by the family. The victim comes from a poor background with both parents deceased. She hoped coming into the UK would offer her a better life and one can only imagine the disappointment she must have felt when she was made to face those unacceptable conditions.
“The family clearly exploited the victim and took advantage of her vulnerable state. They made the victim believe should she go to the police she would never get help and would be in trouble. It was clear that with time the victim lost hope the situation would improve and gave up.
“It was with great thanks to neighbours who raised their concerns for the victims welfare via the modern slavery helpline.
“This investigation was assisted by multiple agencies including the Department for Work and Pensions, Enfield Council and Polish authorities. The victim was brave enough to say what happened to her and she was provided with all necessary support by the Salvation Army.
“I hope that this case will encourage anyone who finds themselves in a similar position, or anyone concerned for someone they know, to come forward and make a report.”
Patricia Strobino, senior crown prosecutor within the CPS London complex casework unit, said: “The prosecution case included testimony from many of the neighbours who witnessed the victim being mistreated and raised the alarm, as well as the victim herself who gave a harrowing account of her experiences with the family; of how she had travelled from Poland to the UK in search of a better life only to be trapped in a life of misery.
“The convictions in this case are a testament to the victim’s courage and those neighbours who did not allow the unacceptable treatment of another go unchecked. This victim now has the opportunity to begin to realise her dreams for a life in the UK. The CPS will always work closely with our law enforcement partners to make sure those who exploit vulnerable victims are taken to court and brought to justice.”
If you suspect that you, or someone you have come into contact with, may be a victim of modern slavery or trafficking and require support, call The Salvation Army’s 24 hour confidential referral helpline on 0800 808 3733. You can also report a suspicion or seek advice through the modern slavery helpline confidentially on 0800 0121 700. This is open 24 hours a day.