A 52-year-old mushroom grower from Reusel in Noord-Brabant has been sentenced to a year in jail for exploiting a man with learning difficulties over a 10 year period.
The man worked from 4.30 am until late, six days a week but was never paid for more than 20 hours and did not receive travel expenses. He was not allowed to take time off and was forced to work when ill.
The matter came to a head in 2019 when the man wanted to leave and the owner’s father blocked his car with a digger and threw a spade at him.
It was clear, the judge said, that the mushroom grower and his father knew the man was vulnerable and that ‘his personal freedom had been seriously curtailed for a long period of time’, leading to fear and stress. The father was let off with a conditional sentence of six months because of ill health.
The judge took into consideration that the suspect showed no remorse and denied the charges, saying the victim wanted to work. He was also told to pay compensation to the victim. His company was fined €100,000.
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