A UK couple kept as many as 29 people as their "slaves" at their three-bedroom home in Bristol and forced them to do nearly £1 million worth of work for free.

Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska, both 46, hoodwinked their victims, including several Slovakians, into working for them for free by promising a better life to them in the UK.

The couple treated them like slaves instead of giving them food, shelter, and safety. They made them work day and night, forced them to live in the dirty house and subjected them to beatings, the Bristol Crown Court heard.

The court has now jailed the couple for a total of 25 years after finding them guilty of modern slavery and human trafficking offences. Tancos has been sentenced to 16 years in prison while Gomulska has been sentenced to nine years, per a report in the BBC.

The victims used to do unpaid work at Tancos' car wash business in the day and do paid jobs at night for others. The work included tasks such as catching chickens, packing milk and sorting parcels. The couple had taken their identity documents and phones, so they could not travel anywhere on their own.

Tancos and Gomulska never paid them their wages and spent the money on second-hand cars and gambling. According to National Crime Agency investigators, the couple failed to pay a minimum of £923,835 in wages to their victims.

Judge Martin Picton said during the hearing that their victims "represented a cash value to (them) in a way cattle would to a farm." And that they "trapped" their victims "solely for the financial benefit."

The people were trafficked between 2010 and 2017 and were aged from their late teens to their 30s. Most of their victims were from Slovakia and Hungary and did not understand the English language.

A victim described the house as a "gate to hell," and said: The only thing I knew was work. All the time I was thinking that I was a slave there. I thought there was no way back."

A woman who had worked for the couple during her pregnancy, told the BBC: "I knew I could not leave, there was nothing I could do."

"When my baby was born it was undernourished, it was horrendous. I was always waiting for things to get better (but) I knew deep inside he was a fraudster," she added.

Tancos and Gomulska not only failed to pay minimum wages to their victims, but also transferred the money their victims earned from their night jobs to their own bank accounts. They transferred almost £300,000 between 2010 and 2017.

Bristol Crown Court
Bristol Crown Court (Wiki Commons)