GLA chief slams "derisory sentence" for Armagh apple pickers' gangmaster

Gheorghe Ionas was fined £500 by Craigavon Magistrates Court after it emerged he kept Romanian apple pickers in an unheated outbuilding in and forced them to scavenge for out-of-date food from supermarket bins.

Paul Broadbent - image:HW
Paul Broadbent - image:HW

Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) chief executive Paul Broadbent said he was "shocked and appalled" by the sentence, and would now seek to appeal.

He said: "I simply fail to see how this punishment fits the crime and is in any way a deterrent for someone who preyed on vulnerable men.

"I will be writing to the Public Prosecutor for Northern Ireland to seek leave to appeal this
derisory sentence and express my utter dismay that slavery – for that is what this was – is seemingly not recognised in the court."

Searching Ionas' home in Lurgan, Co Armagh in October last year, police and GLA officers found three Romanian men sleeping in a breeze-block outbuilding with no heating, which Craigavon Borough Council declared "unfit for human habitation".

The men were paid £100 per week, less than half the national minimum wage, to work full-time in County Armagh's apple orchards.

The three men were given access to specialist support services and have since returned to Romania.

Ionas pled guilty to a single charge of acting as a gangmaster without a licence. As well as the £500 fine, he was ordered to pay £46 towards court costs and a £15 offender's levy.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Is a post-Brexit seasonal worker scheme now impossible?

Is a post-Brexit seasonal worker scheme now impossible?

The UK fresh-produce sector has reacted with dismay at the latest developments in the ongoing debate, largely conducted out of public view, on whether UK horticulture will still have access to seasonal migrant workers when the UK leaves the EU in 18 months' time.

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

UK production horticulture can become more profitable under one possible Brexit scenario, while other more drastic scenarios will lead to only minor losses in profitability, a new report argues.

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon