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Couple kept housemate in a Harry Potter cupboard and treated him like a slave

A couple have been found guilty of making their housemate sleep under the stairs like Harry Potter, wash with a hosepipe and go to the toilet in the woods.

Gabriel Nicolae, 31, was even made to carry out forced labour while his captors stopped him from eating or drinking in the house, The Sun reports.

In the sick tasks, the vulnerable man was even made to eat highly spiced food, ordered to dance and carry out physical challenges.

Gabriel was even made to drink out of an outside hosepipe and use woodland when he needed the toilet and had eggs and flour thrown at him.

media_cameraThe couple allegedly forced the man to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs like Harry Potter. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

Police were called when a neighbour saw him washing in the garden in a basin fashioned from a pile of rocks outside the home in St Anne’s Park in Bristol in July last year.

Prosecutor Charles Thomas said: “Police were surprised when Gabriel Nicolae emerged from the cupboard under the stairs. He looked dishevelled.”

Ion Boboc, 26 and Christiana Tudor-Dobre, 24, were convicted of requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and fraud.

The victim had been using the cupboard under the stairs as a bedroom like “the boy wizard Harry Potter”, a court was told.

media_cameraHe was forced to do his washing outside. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police
media_cameraThe couple reportedly took almost all of the man’s pay cheque, leaving him with just enough money to buy bus tickets and biscuits. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

Mr Nicolae worked full-time at an abattoir earning £300 ($AU546) to £350 ($AU638) a week — but he was given just enough money to buy his bus tickets and around £1 ($AU1.80) a day for biscuits.

Important documents such as his ID card, bank card, financial papers, and multiple phone contracts were in a bedroom used by Boboc and Tudor-Dobre.

The jury also heard that the victim was filmed carrying out tasks set by the defendants.

Mr Nicolae eventually revealed that he would have to wash his clothes in the town centre and was not allowed to eat or wash inside the house, with no use of the kitchen.

A BRAVE WITNESS

Ben Samples of the CPS said: “I would like to commend the victim for the incredible strength and bravery he showed in giving evidence and supporting the prosecution, despite the degrading treatment he suffered at the hands of the defendants.

“I would also like to thank the members of the public who contacted the police with their concerns. Modern slavery often takes place out of sight, and it is only with the support of such witnesses that we will defeat it in the UK.

media_cameraChristiana Tudor-Dobre, 24, is one of the people facing jail time. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police
media_cameraIon Boboc, 26, was also arrested. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

“Finally, I would like to give credit to Avon and Somerset Police, who acted swiftly following the report and built a strong case against the defendants, working in partnership with the CPS South West Complex Case Unit.”

Mihai-Aurel Dan, who was also standing trial, was cleared of both charges.

Officer in the case PC Roger Ibrahim said: “Without the information through the Modern Slavery Hotline this abuse would still be happening.

“When we found this man he appeared underfed and was suffering from sores on his feet. No one should be treated in this way.”

The duo will be sentenced on March 19.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission.

Originally published as Slave kept in ‘Harry Potter cupboard’

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