Man Kept In 6ft Shed As Slave For 40 Years Without Heating Or Lights

by : Emily Brown on :
Man Kept In 6ft Shed As Slave For 40 Years Without Heating Or LightsPA Images

A 56-year-old man has pleaded guilty to modern slavery after investigators found a man who had been living in a shed for 40 years. 

Specialist officers discovered the 58-year-old man during a raid of a residential site north of Carlisle in October 2018, which was conducted following a call to a confidential helpline. Officers then charged Peter Swailes Jr, 56, and his father Peter Swailes, 80, with the modern slavery conspiracy crime.


The charges came following a three-year investigation by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by Cumbria Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Peter Swailes (Alamy)Alamy

During their search of the property, GLAA and NCA officers found the six-foot shed with no heating, a soiled duvet on the floor and a metered television.

The GLAA said the victim appeared dishevelled and agitated as he told them he had lived in the shed for 40 years, during which time he worked on farms, painting, slating and tarmacking, for as little as £10 per day.


Swailes Jr, of Cryndlbeck Stables, Low Harker, Carlisle, pleaded guilty at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday, January 18. He had previously pleaded not guilty to conspiring with his father to arrange or facilitate the travel of an individual between 2015 and 2019 with a view to him being exploited. His father denied the same charge but died last year.

The charge dates back to July 2015, when legislation came into force under the Modern Slavery Act. However, investigators have previously expressed belief the victim was exploited over the course of several decades, ITV News reports.

Shed where man allegedly lived for 40 years (PA Images)PA Images

After being rescued, the victim was medically examined and assessed by specialist trauma officers. A senior investigating officer described him as being ‘traumatised’, ‘like a rabbit in headlights and very confused’, and said he had been living in conditions ‘that no human being should live in’.


Man Who Kept Vulnerable Worker In 6ft Shed For 40 Years Sentenced

published at4 months ago

The victim now lives in supported accommodation outside Cumbria.

GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Martin Plimmer said the ‘complex investigation’ has thrown up ‘numerous challenges along the way’, and said that he wanted to pay tribute to ‘the dedication and professionalism of [his] investigators’ in dealing with the case, according to The Independent.

Shed where man allegedly lived for 40 years (PA Images)PA Images

He commented:


First and foremost in my mind at this time though is the victim. We are sadly all too aware of the fact that he will be traumatised by his experience for the rest of his life.

I am committed to ensuring he continues to have the regular, consistent support he needs which allows him to lead as normal a life as he can in the circumstances.

Swailes Jr was bailed until sentencing on February 4 following his appearance in court yesterday.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University and went on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming Senior Journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and longer form features.

Topics: News, Police, UK


The Independent
  1. The Independent

    Man admits modern slavery of victim kept in 6ft shed for 40 years