Victorian man sentenced for forced labour offence

A 47-year-old Victorian man has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for keeping a woman in forced labour at a number of restaurants throughout Victoria.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) commenced an investigation into the matter in 2015 after allegations of forced labour offences were reported by Anti-Slavery Australia. Investigations revealed evidence that a woman was kept in forced labour at restaurants in Beechworth, Bendigo and Yarrawonga during 2012 and 2013.

The 47-year-old man was summonsed to appear before the County Court of Victoria for two charges of engaging in conduct causing another to remain in forced labour, contrary to Section 270.6A(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is nine years’ imprisonment.

During a committal hearing in October 2018, it was alleged that the 47-year-old man had employed the woman and agreed to sponsor her application for permanent residency; however, he failed to pay her agreed wage. It was alleged that her husband also provided labour at a number of the restaurants.

In November 2019, prior to the trial commencing, the man plead guilty to one charge, relating to keeping the woman in forced labour for a period of seven months in 2013. The second charge, relating to the woman’s husband, was discontinued.

Today (22 June 2020), the man was sentenced by Judge Michael Cahill to 18 months’ imprisonment. Judge Cahill ordered for the man’s immediate release with a three-year good behavior bond, due to the early plea of guilt and period of time since offending.

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