Modern slavery kingpin convicted after captives blow whistle in Forest Gate

David Lupu will be sentenced tomorrow. Picture: CPS

David Lupu will be sentenced tomorrow. Picture: CPS - Credit: CPS

A tip-off at Forest Gate police station helped bring down a modern slavery kingpin.

Storage space for Lupu's captives. Picture: CPS

Storage space for Lupu's captives. Picture: CPS - Credit: CPS

After their brutal boss David Lupu briefly left the country, two men approached officers on September 3 to ask for help returning home to Romania.

They were among about 15 men trapped half-starved in cramped conditions, forced to work long hours for next to nothing when he took their ID papers.

Once Lupu found out what they had done, he threatened to break his captives’ legs and attack their families.

Today the 29-year-old from Romania was convicted of seven counts of holding a person in slavery or servitude after a trial.

Up to 15 men slept wherever they could in the one-bedroom flat. Picture: CPS

Up to 15 men slept wherever they could in the one-bedroom flat. Picture: CPS - Credit: CPS

Inner London Crown Court heard how he exploited his countrymen through offers of work in the UK before using violence and threats to trap them.

Lupu promised each man £50 a day and accommodation in London. In reality, he paid them a fraction of the wage, stuffing them in a small one-bedroom flat in Leyton, Waltham Forest.

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Seven Romanian men described being enticed with jobs last year, only to toil away on a demolition site to repay hundreds of pounds in rent and exaggerated costs.

In fact Lupu was paid a “considerably higher amount” by site employers for the men’s labour and could have paid them a lawful wage and still made a profit for himself, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

While Lupu lounged in his spacious upstairs flat in Lindley Road, his prisoners slept wherever they could in the kitchen, bedroom, hallway and a storage cupboard, sometimes on mattresses they found in the street.

He scoffed himself with good food but left them “gaunt and dishevelled” to cut costs.

To avoid detection, he only allowed the men outside two at a time and warned they would be arrested if discovered.

The men began work on the demolition site in Lancaster Gate on August 14 but had received nothing by the end of the month.

When they confronted Lupu, he punched one of them and shoved another to the floor, threatening to beat the rest if they asked to be paid.

He later relented and gave the men £50 – the only money they ever received.

A few days later he travelled to Romania, allowing two of his victims to escape and alert police.

Lupu will be sentenced tomorrow.

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