Construction slave owner jailed for seven years
A Romanian man who held 15 men in captivity and offered them out for demolition work, threatening to kill them if they tried to leave, has been jailed for seven years.
David Lupu, 29, promised the men £50 a day as well as accommodation, but instead paid them just a fraction of the wage, housed them in cramped conditions and confiscated their ID papers.
Lupu was caught after two Romanian men reported to Forest Gate police station in London and claimed they had been treated like slaves after they came to work in the UK, sparking a Metropolitan Police investigation, supported by the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) fraud team.
David Lupu beat victims who confronted him
On 23 March at Inner London Crown Court, Lupu was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment after being convicted of multiple offences of holding a person in slavery or servitude.
During the trial, seven Romanian men said they had been offered jobs in July last year, but after travelling to the UK, were expected to live in a small one-bedroom flat in Lindley Road, Leyton, east London.
Up to 15 men slept wherever they could in the kitchen, bedroom, hallway and storage cupboard, on mattresses found in the street.
Victims said they were only allowed out of the house two at a time, and warned that they would be arrested if discovered.
Lupu told the men they owed him hundreds of pounds and forced them to work long hours in the demolition sector in order to repay the costs.
Meanwhile, Lupu was paid a significant wage by the building site’s employers for the men’s labour.
When the men discovered their wages from the building site had not been passed on by Lupu, they confronted him, only to be beaten and threatened to be killed if they insisted on being paid before they had paid their “debts”.
Police raided the property in Lindley Road on 6 September 2017, and Lupu was arrested later the same day.
Lupu answered “no comment” to all questions put to him. He was charged on 7 September 2017.
Ian Sidney, CITB’s fraud investigator, said: “Modern slavery is a horrific injustice that unfortunately is becoming more commonplace in the UK’s construction industry.
“Forcing people to work illegally not only deprives people of their human rights, it also harms the reputation of the industry, puts employers at risk, drives down wages and denies employment opportunities to many others.
“CITB has been working with industry, implementing measures to ensure that modern slavery is eradicated from the UK construction industry. We will also continue working with law enforcement agencies to bring offenders to justice.”
Detective constable Marie Marshall, of the Met’s modern slavery and kidnap unit, said: “The victims in this case were promised work and a future in London. The reality was very different and they were exploited by Lupu who arranged work with no intention of payment, saddling the victims in debt.
“The victims were forced to live in cramped conditions and their movements were controlled by Lupu. When interviewed by officers, the men said they felt like they were treated like animals.
“The Metropolitan Police Service will continue to protect victims of labour exploitation and seek to dismantle criminal groups intent on bringing misery to people’s lives. We will continue to work with Europol and our international law enforcement partners to tackle Modern Slavery in London.”
Lupu was also made subject of a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order.