53-year-old Jurate Grigelyte of Easton, Bristol was sentenced to 3 years in prison after admitting to 10 charges of facilitating entry into the UK with a view to exploiting labour, 10 charges of human trafficking and one count of forced labour.
Grigelyte trafficked Lithuanian nationals to the UK with the promise of good employment and accommodation, but the workers, many of whom spoke little or no English, were forced to live in cramped and squalid conditions in properties around Bristol where she would lock them inside, only allowing them to enter and leave through a window.
The victims worked illegally for Grigelyte’s charity bag business collecting donations from people and sorting through clothing. They were transported around the South West in vans with no seats or windows. A typical working day lasted from 5am to 6pm. Grigelyte promised workers £25 per day, but would deduct money for rent, travel and various fines, often leaving workers debt-bonded, with no money for food.
Police arrested Grigelyte in November 2014 after a school raised concerns about the welfare of a six-year-old boy, who was the son of one of the victims.
The Dark Figure* is an ongoing photographic project that investigates and documents UK neighbourhoods where victims have been identified as modern-day slaves.
Photo: Hathaway Walk, Easton, Bristol, courtesy of The Dark Figure