Warrington pair who trafficked 'slaves' from Lithuania jailed

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Robertas Repsas and Rita JablonskaiteImage source, Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption,
Robertas Repsas and Rita Jablonskaite both admitted trafficking offences

A couple who trafficked two Lithuanians into the UK to work as slaves, forcing one to live in a cramped cupboard under the stairs has been jailed.

Rita Jablonskaite and Robertas Repsas promised the man and woman, aged 50 and 51, money and a new life in Warrington, Cheshire, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

The pair, who admitted trafficking offences, confiscated their documents and earnings and barely fed them.

Jablonskaite was sentenced to 28 months in prison and Repsas 15 months.

Judge Louise Brandon said the victims had been been "robbed of their humanity" and the case "brought home the true horror and misery" of human trafficking.

She said although the defendants had not been violent, the man had felt he was "invisibly handcuffed" to the pair.

The pair, of Westland Drive, first brought the man to their home in a mini-bus in June 2017.

He was made to work as a domestic servant and also full-time at a recycling company, and had to sleep in a small cupboard under the stairs.

Image source, Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption,
The man was made to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs

Jablonskaite, 34, and Repsas, 31, confiscated the man's wages and did not pay him for domestic work he did, and even tried to take loans out in his name, the court heard.

He escaped nine months later when he found a discarded phone at his workplace and managed to call the Lithuanian embassy.

The couple went on to traffic the woman in June 2018 and forced her to do similar chores.

She was made to sleep on a sofa and was said to have been so hungry that at times she wept.

The woman was eventually freed after scribbling a message calling for help on police paperwork after officers called at the couple's home as part of their investigation.

'Incredibly vulnerable'

Det Insp Julie Jackson, of Cheshire Police, described Jablonskaite and Repsas as "abhorrent, manipulative and controlling".

She said they had "exploited incredibly vulnerable people by bringing them over from their home country with promises they didn't keep".

With no identity cards or money, the victims "had no freedom" to escape, she said.

The victims were now making a new life in the UK, the detective added.

Jablonskaite admitted three counts of arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation at an earlier hearing while Repsas pleaded guilty to one count of the same offence.

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