Norfolk human traffickers jailed for seven years for forcing twin brothers to work

Konstantin Sasmurin, aged 34 and Linus Ratautas, aged 31, both Lithuanian nationals living at an add

Konstantin Sasmurin, aged 34 and Linus Ratautas, aged 31, both Lithuanian nationals living at an address in Yarmouth Road, Caister-on-Sea, were sentenced at Kings Lynn Crown Court today (Friday 15 January 2016) for human trafficking offences. Photo: Norfolk Police - Credit: Archant

Two men have been jailed for three-and-a-half years each for their part in trafficking brothers from Lithuania and forcing them to work while living in poor conditions in Norfolk.

Konstantin Sasmurin, 34, and Linus Ratautas, 31, both Lithuanian nationals living in Yarmouth Road, Caister-on-Sea, were sentenced at King's Lynn Crown Court today.

They earlier pleaded guilty to trafficking people into the UK for the purposes of labour exploitation and money laundering offences. They were both also issued a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order.

The court heard how their two male victims, both aged 29, were brought to Great Yarmouth from Lithuania in a mini bus in July 2013 after being promised work, accommodation and food. This was arranged by Sasmurin with his contacts in Lithuania.

On arrival to Great Yarmouth they were met by Sasmurin and Ratautas - who were then living in Lichfield Road, Southtown - and taken to an address in Crittens Road, Cobholm.

The address was in very poor condition with mould on the walls and no beds. The victims were given small amounts of food each week and would often run out causing them to go for number of days without food.

After two weeks, Sasmurin and Ratautas took the victims to a food processing factory in Suffolk for work.

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The victims were told to put false address details on the application forms and to include Sasmurin's contact details as their own. He also made them give his bank details to the company for wage payments to be made into his bank account.

The victims were led to believe their wages would be passed on to them but they never received any payment for work.

They worked long hours at the factory but after four weeks work stopped and they were then taken to different factory in Suffolk to work.

Again the victims had to copy forms filled in by Ratautas, including Ratautas's bank details.

The victims received a total sum of £20 for all their work between July and October 2013. They were told they owed money for accommodation, transport, electricity and that they were not paid much because they also had to pay taxes and interest.

During enquiries the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) identified the two victims as potential victims of trafficking and referred them both into the National Referral Mechanism for potential victims of trafficking.

'Fed to the crabs'

When rescued they were wearing the same clothes they had worn for the previous four months. The victims had been threatened not to tell anyone about their situation and feared being 'fed to the crabs'.

A joint investigation between Norfolk Constabulary, Suffolk Constabulary and the GLA was launched and resulted in Sasmurin and Ratautas being arrested in April 2014.

Detective Sergeant Mark Scott from Norfolk Constabulary said: 'I am pleased with today's sentence. I would like to commend the bravery of the victims in this case who had the courage to alert the authorities to what was happening to them.

'This case is another example that modern day slavery is real and is happening around us. It must not be tolerated.

'Norfolk Constabulary will continue to work with partner agencies such as the Gangmasters Licensing Agency to stop the exploitation of vulnerable people and to not only identify potential victims of Human Trafficking but also those criminals associated with these atrocious crimes.'

GLA Senior Investigating Officer Dave Powell said: 'The GLA is delighted that months of hard work, dedication and tenacious investigation have secured the right result in this case.

'Officers from all parties involved came together to create a formidable team and what is perhaps even more important for those involved is the victims in this case are satisfied and relieved these men who trafficked and exploited them have now been brought to justice.

'Those two workers were extremely vulnerable – prime examples of the people the GLA exists to protect. They were preyed upon and exploited by perpetrators who showed not a care for their welfare and were driven solely by financial greed.'