Brothers jailed for trafficking workers from Poland to work at Sports Direct

Erwin Markowski, left, and Krystian Markowski have been jailed for six years each. Picture: Nottinghamshire Police.

Erwin Markowski, left, and Krystian Markowski have been jailed for six years each. Picture: Nottinghamshire Police.

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Two brothers who trafficked people from Poland and sent them to work at Sports Direct at Shirebrook are now behind bars.

Erwin and Krystian Markowski have each been jailed for six years at Nottingham Crown Court, after admitting facilitating the transport of a person to the UK for exploitation and fraud by false representation.

Sports Direct's warehouse and headquarters at Shirebrook.

Sports Direct's warehouse and headquarters at Shirebrook.

Police say Erwin, aged 38, of Cedar Road, Forest Fields, Nottingham, and 35-year-old Krystian, 35, of Harcourt Road, also in Forest Fields, targeted victims in Poland and offered them the chance to travel to the UK.

The court heard their victims were told accommodation and work would be arranged for them, but police say their travel documents would be confiscated and their bank accounts controlled.

Most of their wages from the retailer's warehouse in Shirebrook would also be taken from the men.

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Police said the case came to light when one of the victims visited the front counter at Radford Road police station in Nottingham last January.

He told officers he was living with about 10 other men and being made to work for Sports Direct and his finances were being controlled by the Markowski brothers.

He said he had witnessed other workers being beaten by the brothers and was in constant fear of violence.

Police said the victims were paid about a third of their salary.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: “Police carried out a search of the house on February 10, 2016, and two more victims came forward, who also said they were being exploited by the Markowskis.

“The court was told the brothers operated by identifying vulnerable targets in Poland and offering them travel to the UK, work and accommodation.

“Soon after arriving they were taken to an employment agency in Mansfield and given work in the Sports Direct warehouse at Shirebrook.

“Travel documents such as passports and national identity cards were taken away from the new arrivals by the Markowski brothers. At the same time they were helped to apply for a bank account and bank card, but as soon as the card arrived the Markowski brothers took them.

“They were then forced to work but were only paid by the Markowski brothers about a third of what they earned, £90 out of about £265 take-home pay.

“The brothers each admitted to facilitating the transport of a person to the UK for exploitation and fraud by false representation at a previous hearing.

Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Sarah Fearn said: "The Markowski brothers systematically took advantage of vulnerable people that they purposely brought into Nottingham for their own personal gain.

"They financially benefited from the hard work of others and in return the victims were left feeling used, distressed and manipulated.

“Modern slavery will not be tolerated within Nottinghamshire."

“The sentence is a victory for the victims and also shows a warning to those acting in a similar manner.”

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