Couple who trafficked two Lithuanians in Cheshire are jailed

A 'manipulative and controlling' couple who trafficked two Lithuanians into the UK and forced one to sleep in a cramped cupboard under the stairs have been jailed. 

Rita Jablonskaite, 34, and Robertas Repsas, 31, promised the man and woman, aged 50 and 51, money and a new life in Warrington, Cheshire when they arrived in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. 

But the pair, who admitted trafficking offences, confiscated their victims' documents and earnings and barely fed them, treating them 'as a means of making money' for themselves.

The man lost nearly 44lbs in the time he lived in a cramped cupboard under the stairs inside the couple's property, a court heard.

Pictured: Rita Jablonskaite

Pictured: Robertas Repsas

Rita Jablonskaite (left) and Robertas Repsas (right) trafficked vulnerable people and 'robbed them of their humanity' when they were forced into slavery for 'financial gain', a court heard

Jablonskaite and Repsas were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court today after pleading guilty to trafficking offences. 

Jablonskaite was sentenced to 28 months in prison and Repsas 15 months. 

Judge Louise Brandon said in sentencing that the victims had been 'robbed of their humanity' and the case 'brought home the true horror and misery' of human trafficking. 

'This case brings home the true horror and misery of modern slavery,' she said.  'There was a high level of organisation and planning.

'The treatment that they suffered has had a significant physical impact on them. The motivation in both of these cases was financial gain.

'The victims were treated simply as a means of making money for the two of you.'

The pair, from Warrington, Cheshire, first brought the man to their home in a mini-bus in June 2017, the court heard.

He worked as a domestic servant and full-time at a recycling company. 

Jablonskaite and Repsas confiscated the man's wages and did not pay him for any domestic work he did, the court heard. 

It was alleged that the pair controlled the 50-year-old's work and finances - taking out loans and store cards using his details and setting up bank accounts for him, which they used to pay for their own council tax, mobile phone top-ups, motoring fines and petrol. 

The court was told how Jablonskaite paid him £30 a week which he 'thought was a good deal'.

The man's understanding of English, finances and possessions were 'limited' - with the only items he owned being a mobile phone he had found at the recycling plant and a bag of old coins he had been collecting. 

The couple promised the man and woman, aged 50 and 51, money and a new life when they arrived in Warrington, Cheshire in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively (Pictured: The makeshift bed in a tiny cupboard under the stairs)

The couple promised the man and woman, aged 50 and 51, money and a new life when they arrived in Warrington, Cheshire in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively (Pictured: The makeshift bed in a tiny cupboard under the stairs)

Jablonskaite claimed to have 'come across him in Warrington and took pity on him as he was a fellow Lithuanian with nowhere to stay' before helping him to find employment and open bank accounts. 

He escaped nine months later when he found a discarded phone at his workplace and managed to call the Lithuanian embassy for help.

Nicola Daley, prosecuting, said: 'After arriving in the country in June 2017 in a minibus on a P&O Ferry, the man was taken to an address on Fitzherbert Street in Orford where he slept in the attic.

'When the couple moved home after Christmas that year, he then slept in a cupboard under the stairs on a mattress with a pillow and blanket.'

The couple trafficked the woman in June 2018 and forced her to do similar chores and left her in similarly horrific living conditions,

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