Young men starved, assaulted
in house of horror, court hears
TWO young men were allegedly fed little more than bread and treated like slaves – beaten and forced to clean up after a family and their dogs – all while paying up to $150 a fortnight in board.
A jury in the District Court sitting in Bathurst heard yesterday that before the two men were “released” they were made to write confessions to stealing and “perving” on the children.
“Every time I was hit I deserved it,” one letter said.
A Bathurst couple, both aged in their 40s, have pleaded not guilty to detaining the two men to gain psychological control over them, after taking them in as boarders in the four-bedroom home they shared with their three children.
Neither the couple nor the boarders can be named for legal reasons.
One 18-year-old man moved in about April 2007 but within a few months his female landlord became “controlling and aggressive” and he was soon being routinely beaten with wooden bats or an iron bar, the court was told.
Crown prosecutor John Bowers said the woman told the 18-year-old his mobile phone had been stolen from her handbag, leaving the teen with no way of contacting family or friends.
He was made to perform household chores, including washing dishes, playing with the children and cleaning up after three dogs, the jury heard.
He allegedly wasn’t allowed to eat until he had finished his tasks and was then made to sit on the floor and fed a fraction of what the family’s adolescent children received.
Mr Bowers said he was eventually left to fend for himself in August 2009, when he weighed just 45kg.
The court heard that the female accused was the main attacker, and that she would violently hit and twist the young men’s ears, leaving them with permanent disfigurement.
They were also denied proper food, and suffered from dehydration and malnourishment.
A second tenant, a 25-year-old man, began staying at the home in March 2010 but he too was soon allegedly being starved and subjected to psychological and physical abuse.
On his birthday a few months after coming to live at the house, his male landlord allegedly greeted him with “happy birthday” before punching him without explanation.
The man was also allegedly beaten for eating too quickly, spending too long in the shower and for being a “smartarse”.
The court heard his male landlord took him to Bathurst Police Station in August 2010, when he weighed 43kg.
Each of the young men was released after a year, but the couple forced them to sign letters confessing to various acts, including that they had molested their children and stolen food.
When the second boarder was released, the woman’s partner took the man to police and told them the boarder had pushed his hand down his wife’s pants. The Crown claims that these accusations were false, and was part of the couple’s attempt to retain control over their former captives.
The trial continues.