"Modern-day slave" lived in captivity for 40 years before authorities found him
According to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, a potential victim of modern slavery has been rescued after living in a shed for 40 years.
After spending the last four decades living in an unheated shed, an English man has been rescued in a case law enforcement has described as "modern-day slavery." About 10 miles from the Scottish border in England, near the city of Carlisle, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority on Wednesday discovered a 58-year-old man during a raid at a residence in the region. The man was found in an extremely poor condition in a shed with only a chair and badly stained bedding.
GLAA's Martin Plimmer said in a statement obtained by BBC: “We found him he was like a rabbit in headlights and very confused. He was just in the clothes he stood up in, and where he was sleeping in the shed there was just a soiled duvet on the floor,” Plimmer told the outlet. “There was no heating, and it was very cold. It was conditioned that no human being should live in.”
Both the GLAA and Plimmer believe the man began working around the age of 16 or 17 as a "modern-day slave," BBC reports. “The information that was given to us was that he had been kept in the shed for a period of 40 years. In my long career I’ve never come across anyone who has been held as a slave potentially for 40 years and this, I think, could be the longest period of captivity that we have dealt with. It’s an extremely sad and serious case.”
According to The Guardian, the 58-year-old man was taken to “be medically examined and assessed by specialist trauma officers" shortly after the GLAA's discovery. Plimmer told BBC that the man showed signs of trauma. However, the GLAA says he “is receiving ongoing support and is doing well. He has been traumatized for such a length of time that it will be a slow process to win back his trust."
Helen Harkins, the detective chief inspector for the local Cumbria, said in a statement: “We would like to stress that anyone of any race or background could be a victim of modern day slavery. Offenders tend to target people who are vulnerable and isolated. Hidden signs make it difficult to identify a victim, but common indications include; poor physical appearance, isolation, poor living conditions, few or no personal effects, restricted freedom of movement, unusual travel times and a reluctance to seek help.”
GLAA said in a statement obtained by People that they arrested a 79-year-old British man “on suspicion of modern slavery offenses,” also known as forced labor. Reportedly, he has been released until the investigation concludes.
Speaking to the Mirror, a relative of the 79-year-old man, however, said that the elderly man allegedly opened his home to the younger, disheveled man. “He’s a free man, he’s had everything given to him but this is how he chooses to live,” the relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “My relative’s home is right next door to the shed, and he’s told the man he’s free to go into his home any time he wants. He’s said he can sleep on the sofa, but he won’t do it.”