Wales

Vulnerable man was subjected to 'modern day slavery'

Darrell Simester Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Darrell Simester's family struggled to recognise him when they first saw him

A vulnerable man was forced to work unpaid for 13 years in "modern day slavery", according to prosecutors.

Horse farmer David Daniel Doran, 42, pleaded guilty midway through his trial to making homeless Darrell Simester, from Kidderminster, perform forced or compulsory labour.

His father Daniel Doran, 67, who faced the same charge, was formally found not guilty at Cardiff Crown Court.

A police complaints body says it will now hold an inquiry into the case.

Judge Neil Bidder QC said this was "a case of 13 years of exploitation".

Mr Simester, 44, whose family thought he was missing, had been living in squalid conditions at Cariad Farm near Newport.

He had been picked up on a dual carriageway by a member of the Doran family following a trip to the seaside at Porthcawl, the jury had heard.

He was offered work at the family farm in Peterstone, Newport.

But the work turned out to be forced labour and his accommodation was a rat-infested shed with no washing facilities.

He ate two meals a day on his own in the outbuilding and for more than a decade he was not given soap and never used a toothbrush.

"I used the horse trough to have a wash," Mr Simester told the jury.

During his time at the farm, he fractured his hip after falling from a horse but continued to work despite the pain he was in and was only taken to hospital two days later where he had to undergo surgery.

He had told the court he was "terrified" of Doran and his father.

On Wednesday, midway through the trial, Doran admitted forcing Mr Simester to work unpaid during the period from April 2010-13.

The judge said there had been a total of 13 years of exploitation although there was no evidence Mr Simester had faced threats of violence while he was there.

The crown decided not to pursue the case against Daniel Doran.

'Horrific state'

Mr Simester was found in 2013 by police after a campaign by his family led to a tip-off that he was being held at the farm.

The jury heard that his family struggled to recognise him when they tracked him down in a "horrific state" with a chest infection, a hernia and calloused feet.

Prosecutor John Hipkin said: "We have considered the case in consultation with the Simester family and the chief crown prosecutor and the crown will not seek a verdict against the first defendant."

Doran's defence barrister, Nick Barraclough, told the court that he was a "man of good character, with no previous convictions".

After the hearing Catrin Attwell, senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wales complex casework unit, said: "Over a number of years, David Daniel Doran preyed on Darrell Simester's vulnerability.

"This case demonstrates that modern day slavery exists within our local communities. I hope that today's guilty plea will help Darrell Simester and his family as they seek to move forward with their lives."

Doran's sentencing was adjourned for reports to be compiled.

Watchdog inquiry

Following the end of the trial, a spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said West Mercia Police and Gwent Police have referred conduct matters to the organisation in relation to their investigations into the missing person status of Mr Simester.

South Wales Police have referred a complaint from Mr Simester's mother to the watchdog regarding the force's lack of help and assistance in finding her son.

The IPCC is considering whether Gwent Police has already conducted a satisfactory investigation into this matter and the other two forces have been asked to appoint an officer to lead an investigation.

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