Father and son jailed for enslaving 20-year-old, using him as 'human punching bag' and starving him over two years
A father and son duo have been jailed after they were found to have forced a man to work as a slave at their scrap metal business and repeatedly beating him over two years.
The father, 49-year-old Anthony Baker, and his 19-year-old son, Harvey Baker, repeatedly attacked the 'vulnerable' 20-year-old victim for over two years while forcing him to stay in a tattered caravan at their scrap metal yard in Earlswood Cottages in Jersey Marine, Swansea. The police had raided Baker's yard in January and the sentence was handed at a hearing at Swansea Crown Court on Friday, June 14.
Police took the action after members of the public complained to them about spotting a malnourished young man with heavy bruising and a broken jaw that prevented him from speaking in the same property.
The tortured young man told the police that he had been taken in at the age of 18 by the father. He was reportedly forced to work for him collecting scrap metal while he was fed only one meal a day and that too either tinned soup or baked beans. He added that he was also beaten 'every day' at and was sometimes even hit with a scaffolding bar.
A nurse who was attending the tortured man told the court that he looked like someone from a concentration camp. With his fingers deliberately broken, and his nose bitten, the victim was used as a 'human punch bag' by the pair with one holding him as the other punched him. This happened on multiple occasions and went on for two years, between October of 2016 and January of 2019.
The court was also told that the man had a 'distorted' face from the injuries, along with a burst eardrum and cauliflower ears.
While he was treated in the hospital for a fortnight, he also received skin grafting while being treated for his injuries.
The victim was also ordered to perform 'forced or compulsory labor' for two years until neighbors spotted him and filed a complaint.
The court was told that the father, Anthony Baker, had "limitations in intellect." He pleaded guilty to requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labor, inflicting grievous bodily harm, four counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and unlawful wounding.
The son, Harvey Baker, pleaded guilty to six counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, unlawful wounding, and three counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Stephen Donnelly, who defended the father, said his client should be credited for accepting the charges, thus preventing his victim from undergoing a trial. Lee Davies, who was defending the son, said the teenager had "had time to reflect, and he understands the seriousness of what he's done."
Judge Paul Thomas QC stated how stunned he was to see a crime like this happening in the 21st century, calling the victim's treatment "barbaric and savagely inhuman."
Addressing Anthony Baker, he said: "It would have been utterly appalling if you had treated one of your animals the way your treated him, let alone a teenager. On the pretext of giving him somewhere to live you made him your slave. You kept him hungry and thirsty. He had to live in conditions unfit for human habitation and was not properly clothed. It was cruel above all incredulity. He was hit on a regular basis with such cruelty and frequency it amounted to sadistic behavior. I consider you both got a power kick from having someone at your mercy. A powerless teenager. He will never recover fully from what you did to him," Daily Mail reported.
Anthony Baker was given a 10-year jail sentence with an extension period of five years, and a 20-year modern slavery order, meaning he would have to notify South Wales Police before employing anybody.
Harvey Baker was sentenced to six years in a young offender institution.
After the hearing, Catrin Attwell of the Crown Prosecution Service said the Bakers had "exploited the victim's vulnerability". "Modern slavery is a despicable crime. It is hard to believe slavery is happening in our communities but this case reminds us that it does."