A Batley businessman who used £10-a-week slave labour in his bedmaking firm escaped having his 27-month sentence increased by top judges.
Mohammed Rafiq, 60, of Thorncliffe Road, employed five Hungarian immigrants who had been trafficked to the UK by slavemasters.
The men were paid paltry sums for up to 18-hour working days and were housed in squalid shared accommodation.
Rafiq came under investigation after the traffickers were arrested, but denied any wrongdoing.
He was convicted at Leeds Crown Court of conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel within the UK for exploitation and jailed in February.
The case was back before judges after an application by Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, for the term to be increased.
Rafiq cross-appealed, claiming his prison sentence was not ‘unduly lenient’, but actually ‘manifestly excessive’.
But in a hearing at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Treacy dismissed both cases and upheld the sentence.
The court heard the workers had been enticed to travel to the UK by human trafficker Janos Orsos.
They were misled about the amount they would earn and their living and working conditions. Rafiq became involved when, with his Dewsbury-based Kozee Sleep bed business struggling to make ends meet, he was approached by Orsos. He agreed to pay Orsos £3-an-hour for the workers which he provided.
Orsos was ultimately jailed for five years and his ‘lieutenant’, Ferenc Illes, for three years for their roles. Rafiq received a shorter sentence because of his lesser involvement and personal mitigation.
Lawyers for the attorney general today argued that the crown court judge had given too much weight to that mitigation and came to a sentence which was far too soft.
But Lord Justice Treacy, sitting with Mrs Justice Lang and Mr Justice Dove, disagreed and upheld the 27-month term.
‘We don’t consider that he did give undue weight to personal mitigation and certainly not to the extent that would render this an unduly lenient sentence,’ he said.
‘We have come to the conclusion that the attorney general’s application must fail.’
Dismissing Rafiq’s appeal against the term, he said the sentence would stand as imposed at the crown court.