Brian Sims

Duo jailed for multiple counts of modern slavery in wake of CPS investigation

MAROS TANCOS and Joanna Gomulska – who subjected trafficked slavery victims to a life of misery and poverty by forcing them to work and spending their earnings – have been jailed for modern slavery offences in the wake of an investigation process conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Tancos, aged 45, and 46-year-old Gomulska trafficked at least 29 vulnerable people to the UK from Slovakia or Hungary on the promise of a better life. From the moment they arrived in the UK, however, the victims were under the control of Tancos and Gomulska. The men and women would be taken to their new home, stripped of their identity documents and met with violence if they asked for money or food.

Victims were forced to work at Tancos’ car wash for free. Having finished their shifts, they would then be taken to other manual jobs having had little or no break and were also made to work when injured.

The victims’ earnings were taken by Tancos and Gomulska, who gave them only basic rations of food and kept them in poor living conditions. The pair used this money not to feed or provide decent shelter for the victims, but rather on online gambling sites, flights and also to entrap more victims.

On Wednesday 22 June at Bristol Crown Court, Tancos was jailed for 16 years and Gomulska put behind bars for a period of nine years.

Building the case

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) worked closely with partners in the UK and overseas to bring the case to court. Identifying at least 29 victims, the focus was on securing evidence and gaining the victims’ confidence to keep them engaged and ensure they were comfortable with the unfamiliar UK justice process.

Many victims were able to give their evidence remotely, pre-recording their testimony and being cross-examined via video link. This allowed those who were understandably reluctant to participate, or otherwise unable to return to the UK, the chance to be part of the trial.

The mobile phones seized when Tancos and Gomulska were arrested by National Crime Agency officers were full of incriminating data which corroborated the accounts of the victims. The mobile phones contained a list of PIN codes to access the victims’ accounts, images of bank cards, employment records and identity documents for the victims and flight details.  

Given the fact that the victims had no access to their own accounts, the presence of these documents on Tancos and Gomulska’s mobile phones, combined with banking analysis showing cash being withdrawn and transferred online, proved that they were responsible.

Life of misery

Ruona Iguyovwe, senior specialist prosecutor at the CPS, explained: “This is a truly harrowing case of exploitation spanning nearly a decade whereby people were trafficked and subjected to a life of misery in order to line the pockets of two ruthless individuals. Referring to the house as a ‘gate to hell’, one victim’s account shows how they felt trapped, unable to seek help without identity documents, locked in the house and threatened.”

Iguyovwe continued: “Gaining the victims’ confidence has been fundamental to this case, while a significant amount of work went in to caring for and engaging with them throughout the process. I commend every person who testified for their bravery.”

Further, Iguyovwe observed: “Tancos and Gomulska took everything they could from the victims, depriving them of the most basic human needs and acting for their own gain. This has been a deeply distressing case for everyone who has worked hard to ensure these two individuals face justice for the damage they have done to people who just wanted a better life. It was a long trial, but we’ve been able to hold Tancos and Gomulska accountable for their horrific actions and, importantly, secure justice for the victims.”

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