Sunderland takeaway boss must pay back six-figure sum after Northumberland slavery crimes
A businessman who treated vulnerable men as slaves and forced them to work 90 hours a week has been ordered to pay a six-figure sum from his jail cell.
Sunderland takeaway owner Harjit Singh Bariana, 46, is serving an eight-and-a-half year sentence after targeting white men who were left homeless due to alcoholism and drug addiction.
Bariana, of Blue House Farm, Netherton Colliery, near Bedlington, provided them with squalid accommodation in Northumberland, took all their housing benefit as payment and forced them to work in despicable conditions.They cleaned sewage pipes by hand and completed 13-hour days in their bare feet without wages.
His victims, who were fed leftover takeaway food as payment, suffered violence and intimidation if they refused.
After police raided a property in Blyth where they were staying, Bariana was found guilty by a Newcastle Crown Court jury of six out of eight counts of requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour between 2009 and 2015.
He was also convicted at his May 2018 trial of being concerned in the supply of diazepam.
Now, following months of evidence gathering by Northumbria Police, a judge at a proceeds of crime hearing at Newcastle Crown Court has ordered Bariana to pay back £275,000.
A number of assets, including two houses and a large quantity of cash, have been seized as part payment.
Their estimated value is close to £133,000 although Bariana, who ran Sunderland’s Valentinos takeaway, will still have to pay off the remaining sum.
Inspector Billy Mulligan, one of the investigation’s lead officers, has praised the work of officers and the bravery of the victims, saying: “Harjit Bariana preyed on vulnerable victims for his own gain and their consistent bravery and strength during this whole process has been inspiring.
“Hopefully his victims can find comfort knowing that Bariana is not only behind bars but has now had these assets taken off him.”
Insp Mulligan added: “This case challenges the stereotype and has shown that victims of modern day slavery can come from any walk of life and any background.”
Concerns about modern day slavery can be raised with police on 101 or by calling the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121700.