Human trafficking boss smuggled men into the UK from Hungary

Human trafficking boss sneaked back into Britain after being deported then smuggled men into the UK from Hungary and lived ‘like a king’ while holding slave, 31, captive for two years and using stun gun to discipline him

  • Janos Sztoska ‘lived like a king’ while a 31-year-old man kept virtually prisoner
  • Forced his victim, who had learning difficulties, to carry out household chores
  • He spent some of his victim’s money on a lavish £180 birthday cake for his wife 
  • Sztoska also admitted possessing a prohibited item, a Taser-like stun gun
  • Jailed for six years for facilitating travel of a person with a view to exploitation

A human trafficking boss has been jailed for six years after using a man as a slave, disciplining him with a stun gun and making him sleep next to his dogs.

Janos Sztoska, 33, from Braunstone in Leicestershire, ‘lived like a king’ while keeping a 31-year-old man with learning difficulties as a virtual prisoner over the course of two years, a judge heard.

Sztoska forced his victim to carry out household chores and spent the majority of the money the man earned at a Derby food production factory – including buying a lavish £180 birthday cake for his wife and flights for four other men he trafficked into the UK from Hungary.

Leicester Crown Court heard Sztoska, who used a number of aliases including Johnny Boss, controlled the finances of all five men and made sure they were escorted to and from the factory where he arranged for them to work.

He also forged utility bills to open bank accounts in each of their names – which he then sold via the black market to other crooks who used the accounts to launder around £150,000.

Janos Sztoska (pictured), from Braunstone in Leicestershire, ‘lived like a king’ while keeping a 31-year-old man with learning difficulties as a virtual prisoner over the course of two years, a judge heard

Sztoska also admitted possessing a prohibited item, a Taser-like stun gun, that was seized from his home, which his slavery victim claimed was used to discipline him.

The defendant, who has previous convictions for burglary and money laundering, was deported from the UK in May 2017 but returned soon afterwards.

He then arranged for the Hungarian males, who were between 19 and 56 years old and spoke little English, to come to Leicestershire under the guise of providing them with well-paid jobs.

But the victims’ salaries were paid into Onepay card accounts, which were controlled by Sztoska, and they were given only ‘a fraction of what they earned’.

The domestic slave victim later told the police Szoska ‘took me for an idiot.’

Rufus D’Cruz, prosecuting, said: ‘He had no access to cash and was paid in food and cigarettes and sometimes not even that.

Sztoska forced his victim to carry out household chores and spent the majority of the money the man earned at a Derby food production factory. Pictured, a police raid on the house

‘He wasn’t allowed to leave the house, the defendant would lock the door and not let him out and he felt like he was in prison, being monitored by CCTV cameras.

‘If he refused to do something he would be shouted at and slapped on the face, leaving him scared, stressed and nervous.

‘His sleeping accommodation was shared with three dogs and he described himself as “the fourth dog in the household”. He wasn’t allowed to eat what, or when, he wanted.’

Sztoska used a stun gun on him on three occasions, pressing the weapon onto his leg over his trousers and once causing him to fall on the floor, leaving him feeling ‘hurt and humiliated’, the court heard.

The 30,500-volt weapon was recovered by the police and the defendant claimed it was left at his home by ‘someone else.’

Between October 2018 and December 2020 neighbours noticed the victim regularly cleaning up outside the house while Sztoska did nothing other than ‘strutting around like he was a king.’

They said the victim was often seen ‘rushing out to unload the shopping’ from the car.

Another witness said the victim was treated ‘like a b***h boy’, was constantly being shouted at and appeared ‘visibly scared’.

His salary payment card was used by the defendant or his partner for purchases in shops such as Boots and at petrol stations in Leicester, often while the victim was busy working.

The offences were discovered when the victims’ employment agency and the factory’s management reported their concerns about the five Hungarian workers to the government’s Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, resulting in an investigation.

Four of the victims, who were living at the home of the defendant’s relative in Wigston, were only in the UK for about four months before their ‘dark situation’ was discovered. 

Sztoska was said to come from a ‘Romany gypsy background’ with no relatives remaining in Hungary. Pictured, money found during a raid on the house

More than £17,000, including £8,000 from the man who was kept as a slave, was stolen from all five men. 

Judge Robert Brown told Sztoska: ‘The treatment of your victims, in particular one of them, was deplorable.

‘He was particularly vulnerable, with learning difficulties, and you had him captive in your household for two years. When he wasn’t working in a factory he was performing chores in your home at your behest.

‘There was a high degree of deceitfulness towards all five victims as you controlled their pay cards and they were economically trapped.’

He said Sztoska, who has a partner and a small child from a different relationship, would be deported to Hungary at the end of his sentence – for a second time.

Henry James, mitigating, said four of the victims were given a portion of their wages and had not complained about the food or accommodation they were given – and one left the situation of his own free will. He added they were not kept in squalor.

Sztoska also admitted possessing a prohibited item, a Taser-like stun gun (pictured), that was seized from his home, which his slavery victim claimed was used to discipline him

He claimed the defendant fraudulently opened bank accounts in the victims’ names to sell on under the instructions of someone else, which he said was the main reason for bringing the men into the country on a short-term basis.

Sztoska was said to come from a ‘Romany gypsy background’ with no relatives remaining in Hungary.

What are the signs of modern slavery? 

Someone in slavery might: 

  • Appear to be under the control of someone else and reluctant to interact with others;
  • Not have personal identification on them have few personal belongings;
  • Wear the same clothes every day or wear unsuitable clothes for work;
  • Not be able to move around freely;
  • Be reluctant to talk to strangers or the authorities;
  • Appear frightened, withdrawn, or show signs of physical or psychological abuse;
  • Dropped off and collected for work always in the same way, especially at unusual times, i.e. very early or late at night  

Source: Antislavery.org

He was jailed for six years after admitting five counts of facilitating travel of a person with a view to exploitation, one count of requiring someone to perform forced or compulsory labour, one count of making or supplying articles [bogus utility bills] for use in fraud and one count of being concerned in money laundering.

He was also made the subject of a 10-year Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order.

The defendant will face a proceeds of crime confiscation hearing later in the year, with a view to seizing any assets and compensating the victims.

Detective Constable Daljinder Gill, the officer in the case, was commended by the judge for his ‘diligent and thorough’ investigation.

After the hearing, DC Gill said: ‘This was a full team investigation involving a number of partner agencies working together following an allegation which had been made.

‘The investigation had to be handled carefully and sensitively in order to ensure the victims of this offence were safeguarded and that the full scale of the crime which the defendant had committed could be proved.

‘Thanks to the dedicated work of all of the team involved, Sztoska has had to admit his actions in court and his exploitation of vulnerable victims.

‘I would like to recognise the bravery and co-operation of the victims in this case who have helped us massively to ensure this successful prosecution as well as those who provided information in relation to the offending which led to the initial investigation.

‘Modern slavery unfortunately remains very much ongoing across the UK today. We urge people to be aware, to spot the signs and to report any suspicions they have to us.

‘Signs include long labour hours, chaperoning, lack of personal possessions, malnutrition, and abuse. Anyone who is a victim of modern slavery should also report to us. Full support and safeguarding will be provided to you and we will take action to bring offenders to justice.’

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