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A couple have been found guilty of keeping a housemate as a slave – forcing him to live in a cupboard under the stairs “like Harry Potter”.

Gabriel Nicolae was made to carry out forced labour and his captors controlled his finances and stopped him from eating or drinking in the house.

He was made to eat highly spiced food and ordered to dance and carry out physical challenges.

Mr Nicolae worked full time at an abattoir earning £300 to £350 a week – but he was given just enough money to buy his bus tickets and around £1 a day for biscuits.

Gabriel was even made to drink out of an outside hosepipe and use woodland when he needed the toilet and had eggs and flour thrown at him.

The victim had been using the cupboard under the stairs as a bedroom like “the boy wizard Harry Potter”, a court was told.

Neighbours called police after seeing Gabriel washing in the garden in a basin fashioned from a pile of rocks.

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Ion Boboc, 26 and Christiana Tudor-Dobre, 24, were convicted of requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and fraud.

Mihai-Aurel Dan, who was also standing trial, was cleared of both charges. All three are from the St Anne’s Park area of Bristol.

Prosecutor Charles Thomas said police visited the trio’s address on July 27 2018, after a concerned neighbour called the Modern Slavery Hotline.

Mr Thomas said: “Police were surprised when Gabriel Nicolae emerged from the cupboard under the stairs. He looked dishevelled.”

Important documents such as his ID card, bank card, financial papers, and multiple phone contracts were in a bedroom used by Boboc and Tudor-Dobre.

The jury also heard that the victim was filmed carrying out tasks set by the defendants.

Mr Nicolae eventually revealed that he would have to wash his clothes in the town centre and was not allowed to eat or wash inside the house, with no use of the kitchen.

Ben Samples of the CPS said: “I would like to commend the victim for the incredible strength and bravery he showed in giving evidence and supporting the prosecution, despite the degrading treatment he suffered at the hands of the defendants.

“I would also like to thank the members of the public who contacted the police with their concerns. Modern slavery often takes place out of sight, and it is only with the support of such witnesses that we will defeat it in the UK.

“Finally, I would like to give credit to Avon and Somerset Police, who acted swiftly following the report and built a strong case against the defendants, working in partnership with the CPS South West Complex Case Unit.”

Officer in the case PC Roger Ibrahim said: “Without the information through the Modern Slavery Hotline this abuse would still be happening.

”When we found this man he appeared underfed and was suffering from sores on his feet. No one should be treated in this way.”

The duo will be sentenced for their crimes on March 19.

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