Agency workers allowed exploitation of 41 Romanians in Liverpool

suspect and GLAA officer Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption Raids were carried out by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) in Liverpool in March 2018

Two employment agency workers allowed the exploitation of workers who were being controlled by a gangmaster.

The 41 "extremely vulnerable" Romanians were found after raids in Liverpool in March 2018.

Josh Beesley, 27, and Christopher Beech, 43, had placed the workers in jobs at a meat plant, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Both men pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting an unlicensed gangmaster.

Beesley was jailed for 20 months after also admitting conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position.

Beech was given an eight-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

The workers had been recruited from abroad by another man - Alexandru or Gheorghe Goran - and his wife Anne Marie, who are wanted by police, the court heard.

'Callous disregard'

Beesley and Beech had worked for employment agency Contact and placed the workers in jobs at the Birtwistles meat plant in Irlam, Salford.

The workers were housed in multiple-occupancy properties, often with four workers per room, and were transported from there to the factory with no access to bank accounts opened in their names.

Beesley, of Lockerbie Place, Wigan, took a cut of £35,000 Goran was estimated to have taken from workers' wages between June 2016 and March 2017, the court was told, although he claimed it was about £2,000.

Operational director, Beech, of Lilac Court in Congleton, Cheshire, visited some of the properties in Liverpool but allowed the arrangement to continue, the court heard.

Judge Sophie McKone said the workers were vulnerable "because they didn't speak the language, they didn't know their rights and they were being controlled both physically and financially".

She said: "It is clear that your actions allowed the exploitation of many workers to continue over a long period of time, and you Beesley particularly, in my view, had a callous disregard to the welfare of those workers."

Charles Lander, defending Beesley, said the father-of-two, who had debts of about £6,000, felt intimidated by Goran and was used by him.

Damian Zelazowski, defending Beech, said he accepted he should have made a report about Goran's activities but the properties he visited were clean and not high occupancy.

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