Lancashire

Polish couple 'forced to work for £4 a day' in Nelson

Manchester Road
Image caption The couple were made to live in dirty and squalid conditions in outbuildings at a house in Nelson, the jury was told

A Polish couple were forced to work for £4 per day and treated with less respect than dogs, a court has heard.

Mohammed Riaz, 62, and his son Khuram, deny forcing or compelling Margorsha Bienick and Michal Czesniawski into labour in Nelson, Lancashire.

The father and son, 27, told Burnley Crown Court the couple were alcoholics who would have been on the streets.

The jury was shown a video of Ms Bienick describing working long hours and being shouted at.

'Invisible handcuffs'

In April 2015 the couple were found living in an outbuilding described as "a 10ft by 7ft shack" that was filthy, damp and mouldy, the court heard.

The jury was told there was a makeshift bathroom in a nearby shed, with a "foul-smelling" toilet bowl.

During its opening, the prosecution said the couple were unemployed and had nowhere to live and their personal circumstances effectively put them "into the clutches" of the two defendants.

Prosecutor Julian Goode told the jury they were in a psychological trap - "invisible handcuffs if you like".

Mohammed Riaz, who was known to the couple as "Mr Papa", and Khuram Riaz who was known as "the Boss," said giving the pair somewhere to live and some food were "acts of goodwill".

Defence barrister Michael Maher who represents Mr Riaz junior told the jury the complainants were "the authors of their own misfortune."

He and Stuart Neale who represents Mr Riaz senior, claimed the Polish couple were alcoholics who would have been on the streets but for the help offered to them by Mohammed and Khuram Riaz.

Image caption Mohammed and Khuram Riaz shown arriving at Burnley Crown Court on Tuesday

In a video recording shown to the court, Ms Bienick described being woken at 07:00 or 08:00 and working until 22:00.

She said she was at first paid nothing, then received £1 per day. That was eventually raised to £4 bringing her to the same pay as Michal Czesniawski.

If they wanted a day off, she said, they had to pay £7.

She said Mr Riaz senior frequently shouted at her adding: "He treated his dogs with more respect than us."

Mohammed and Khuram Riaz, of Manchester Road, Nelson have been charged under the Modern Slavery Act.

They deny the charges against them.

The trial continues.

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