Two modern slavery victims who were approached on the streets of Slovakia and brought to Peterborough with a promise of a better life have been awarded more than £130,000 in compensation.
Margita Slavikova, 68 of Cermen, in Nitra, Slovakia, and her son Robert Slavik, 40, of Priory Road, Peterborough, admitted fraud charges against the two men and were jailed in September.
The mother and son exploited the men and made them work for little pay. They also took out loans and phone contracts in their names.
The two victims lived at various addresses in Peterborough over the course of almost eight years – with one even being coerced into a sham marriage.
The first victim, a 30-year-old man, was paid about £12,900 for nearly eight years of work – but the total he actually earned, including benefits, was £118,700.
The second victim, aged 46, was only paid about £13,600 for the same years of work but actually earned about £80,100.
Both victims were moved to various addresses in Peterborough between 2008 and 2016, along with members of the Slavik family, until April 2016, when police executed a warrant in Lincoln Road, Peterborough.
Both men were rescued and entered into the National Referral Mechanism. Slavikova’s grandson Roman Slavik and daughter Maria Slavikova were jailed in March 2019 for their crimes against the same two victims.
Slavik and Slavikova appeared at Cambridge Crown Court yesterday (18 August) for a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing.
Judge Jonathan Cooper ordered Slavikova to pay back a total of £130,350 within three months or face an extra two years in prison.
Of that sum, one slavery victim was awarded £52,139 in compensation and the other £78,210.
Slavik had benefited by £136,604 but the amount available for confiscation was just £1. The judge made an order in that sum with Slavik having to serve an extra seven days in prison in lieu of payment.
‘Exploited by people they thought they could trust’
DC Pete Wise said: “Both vulnerable victims were exploited by the Slavik family – people they thought they could trust.
“This POCA hearing has ensured that Robert Slavik and Margita Slavikova will be stripped of the profit they made from their crimes – or in Slavik’s case face extra time behind bars as an alternative.
“It also demonstrates that not only will we do everything we can to bring offenders to justice, but also all we can to ensure victims get any money back that is rightfully theirs.
“Working alongside our specialist financial investigators in the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), we will continue to utilise every opportunity to use the Proceeds of Crime Act to deprive criminals of their ill-gotten gains, amassed from the misery and exploitation of others.
“Increasing public knowledge of the signs of modern slavery is key to protecting the vulnerable. It’s vital that people are aware of how to spot the signs and report any concerns to us, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Doing so could save a life.”
Spotting the signs
Warning signs of modern slavery or exploitation include people:
• Not being able to come and go as they wish
• Being under 18 and providing commercial sex acts
• Working in the commercial sex industry and having a pimp/manager
• Being unpaid or paid very little
• Working excessively long or unusual hours
• Not being allowed breaks or suffers restrictions at work
• Owing a large debt and being unable to pay it off
• Being recruited through false promises
• Having high security measures at their place of work and/or living locations e.g. opaque windows
Suspicions relating to exploitation, modern slavery and human trafficking should be reported online via www.cambs.police.uk/report or by calling 101.
Always call 999 in an emergency.For more information on modern slavery and advice on how to spot the signs, visit the force’s dedicated web page for slavery and human trafficking.