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Suspected slavery victim 'blackmailed into working in Dover and Lydd for £20 a week'

By Sean Axtell

A suspected slavery victim told how he was slapped and blackmailed into working at a Kent factory for £20 a week.

Baclav Unger told a court he was a recovering drug addict homeless in the Czech Republic when Petr Makula, 48, from Dover, convinced him to move to the county for work.

But Makula’s promises of free accommodation, food and a job with a £100 weekly wage were lies, a court heard.

The men were allegedly housed in Dryden Road in Dover. Picture: Google Street View (10918073)
The men were allegedly housed in Dryden Road in Dover. Picture: Google Street View (10918073)

Mr Unger, 40, told detectives he was housed with 17 other slaves in a Dryden Road terrace in Dover, where they would suffer at Makula’s hands.

“From time to time Makula would come in and throw in some slaps – he only slapped me once,” Mr Ungar said during an interview.

Footage played at Canterbury Crown Court showed Mr Ungar telling detectives he was recruited on a park bench in a Czech town, then driven nine hours to Dover the next day.

“I didn’t know whether the work was legal," he said.

“I didn’t know about the work conditions because I couldn’t understand English.

“I didn’t have a bank account, so all my money would go to Petr and he would give me some.”

The court heard some men were taken by shuttle-bus to work unpredictable hours at the Tudor Tiles factory in Lydd.

Others were forced to work at a Dover car wash seven days a week rarely with a day off, he alleged.

The men received between £10 to £30 per week after it was paid into Makula’s bank account.

When a detective asked Mr Ungar if the suspected slaves contested the meagre salary, he answered: “Yes.”

“What did he say?”

“I didn’t have a bank account, so all my money would go to Petr and he would give me some...” - Baclav Unger

“He said we had to pay for bills on the house and buy the minibus that took us to work.”

Mr Ungar said he received no formal factory training and a colleague suffered a serious hand injury and had to be treated at a London hospital.

“(The factory conditions) Were not good.

“Everything is very old, there is a hole in the roof so when it rains it gets in.

“There was no – it was emotional abuse.”

He claimed Makula would tell the men they had “nowhere else to go” because they “couldn’t speak English.”

Mr Ungar, speaking through an interpreter, told police he escaped and sought refuge with a London charity, not long after arriving in Dover in August 2013.

Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate carried out warrants at a number of addresses in Lydd, Dover and Folkestone last year.

Petr Makula, 47, and, Mario Makula, 25, of Granville Street in Dover, Emil Rac, 39, of Rendezvous Street in Folkestone, and Angela Makulova, 27, of Tower Hill, Dover, stand trial for five charges related to people trafficking and modern day slavery.

The trial continues.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

For information on how we can report on court proceedings, click here.

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