A modern slavery couple who forced vulnerable men to work in a carwash for free before taking their earnings have been jailed.
‘Ruthless’ Maros Tancos, 45, and Joanna Gomulksa recruited at least 29 people from Slovakia and Hungary to Bristol by promising them ‘a better life’.
They have been jailed for 16 and 9 years respectively for human trafficking offences in Bristol.
When their victims arrived, they were stripped of their identity documents and subjected to a life of misery in a house described as a ‘gate to hell’, prosecutors said.
They were forced to work in the car wash for free during the day and perform other work at night, whilst being given little food.
Tancos and Gomulksa set up bank accounts in the workers’ names, took their earnings and spent the cash on gambling, buying cars and their own lifestyle, Bristol Crown Court heard
The trafficked people were made to live as ten people in a three-bedroom house, sharing one bathroom and sleeping on dirty mattresses.
Their victims described their treatment in statements as ‘catastrophic’, with Tancos and Gomulksa making them work under any circumstances.
One said he broke his arm and had it set in a cast in hospital, but was still made to work in the car wash, while others were ‘humiliated, hit and punished’ by Tancos.
Between 2010 and 2017, the pair acquired over £300,000 from their victims’ accounts.
Tancos and Gomulska were arrested on suspicion of modern slavery in 2017. They denied the charges but were convicted in April following a three-month trial.
They were convicted of charges relating to trafficking people into and around the UK for labour exploitation.
Tancos was convicted of 10 offences and Gomulksa of nine.
Ruona Iguyovwe, Senior Specialist Prosecutor, said: “This is a truly harrowing case of exploitation spanning nearly a decade, where people were trafficked and subjected to a life of misery to line the pockets of two ruthless individuals.
“Referring to the house as a ‘gate to hell’, one victim’s account shows how they felt trapped, unable to seek help without identity documents, locked in the house and threatened.”