Polish slave rescued from squalid Nottingham loft where he was forced to make greetings cards for 20-hours-a-day

·Freelance Writer

This is the harrowing moment a Polish slave was rescued from a human trafficker who forced him to make greetings cards for 20-hours-a-day inside a squalid loft.

Footage released by police shows the man cowering under a workman’s jacket in the corner of an attic after he was forced into a life of servitude by Edward Zielinski.

Zielinski, 42, has now been jailed for 40 months after he admitted two charges of human trafficking at Nottingham Crown Court.

Between May 31, 2013 and June 1 this year, Zielinski, of Hyson Green, Nottingham, exploited two vulnerable Polish men, forcing them into slavery.

He would even lock his victims in the loft during the night forcing them to urinate in plastic bottles rather than wake him and his wife who slept in the room below.

The first victim came to the UK of his own accord in 2008 and initially lived in London but got into debt with Zielinski’s cousin, owing £700-800 for the cost of a new passport and other bills.

<em>Edward Zielinski forced the man to work long hours in squalid conditions (SWNS)</em>
Edward Zielinski forced the man to work long hours in squalid conditions (SWNS)

He was sent to Nottingham to work for Zielinski to pay off the debt.

When he arrived at a house in Brushfield Street, Radford, he was put to work making greetings cards, working up to 20-hours-a-day from 8am to 4am with only limited breaks.

He was often threatened with violence and even beaten if Zielinski didn’t think he was working hard enough.

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In 2015, he moved with Zielinski to Glentworth Road, Radford, and started working for employment agencies

Zielinski opened a bank account in his name but did not allow him access to the cards.

Despite earning around £300-a-week he was only paid with cigarettes, alcohol, the occasional piece of clothing from a car boot sale and £10 in cash.

<em>The man was spending 20 hours a day making greetings cards in the loft</em>
The man was spending 20 hours a day making greetings cards in the loft

Zielinski even forced him to go out stealing when he lost his agency jobs.

The victim twice tried to escape but was forced to return to Zielinski who tracked him down through his employers.

But after being beaten with a plank of wood last January, he managed to escape and lived on the streets before ending up in a detention centre in Gatwick.

Months later Nottinghamshire Police’s modern slavery team was made aware of the man and he exposed the full horror of Zielinski’s crimes.

When police raided Zielinski’s home in Birkin Avenue, Hyson Green on May 31 this year, they found a second man in the loft, using a jacket as a blanket.

This victim had moved to Nottingham in 2015 and needed accommodation, and heard through a friend that Zielinski had a spare room.

But Zielinski took advantage of him, forcing him to work without control of his own finances, being given just £70-a-week.

<em>Zielinski forced the men to work in squalid conditions (SWNS)</em>
Zielinski forced the men to work in squalid conditions (SWNS)

Both victims are now with the Salvation Army charity receiving support.

Detective Sergeant Mike Ebbins, who led the investigation, said: “The first victim was made to work up to 20 hours a day from 8am to 4am with only limited breaks, earning only £10 a week for his efforts.

“The other victim was the cash cow for Zielinski so was allowed access to a bedroom and avoided being assaulted.

“But in both cases Zielinski exploited them for his own financial interests.”

He added: “They were incredibly vulnerable people – unemployed, alcohol dependent, and couldn’t speak a word of English – so they were seen as perfect victims.

“A lot of hard work has been put in by the human trafficking team and it is great news that he has pleaded guilty because it means his victims haven’t had to face him at trial.

“The victims should be applauded for coming forward.”

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