A Tip Led to a Green Shed. Inside: an 'Extremely Sad Case'

British officials found man believed to have been kept as slave for more than 40 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2018 1:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – A call to a confidential tip line has led to what a workers' regulation official in England calls the discovery of an "extremely sad and serious case." The BBC and Evening Standard report on a raid at dawn Wednesday in Cumbria, where officers from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority found a 58-year-old man living in a green 6-foot shed outfitted with just a soiled bedding, a chair, and a TV. The horrifying part of their discovery: GLAA's Martin Plimmer says it appears the man had been kept as a modern-day slave there, doing unpaid labor since he was 16 or 17 years old. "The information that was given to us was that he had been kept in the shed for a period of 40 years," he says.

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Plimmer adds that there was no heat in the shed and that the man, who looked like "a rabbit in headlights" when he was discovered, had been living in "conditions that no human being should live in." An arrest has been made in the case, though there's not much detail on it. Plimmer would only say it's a 79-year-old man who would soon undergo further questioning. "In my long career I've never come across anyone who has been held as a slave potentially for 40 years," he says. "This, I think, could be the longest period of captivity that we have dealt with." Plimmer notes it's not clear whether the man ever tried to escape, and that it would likely take a while to gain his trust due to his long-term trauma. (Read more slavery stories.)

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