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Father and son found guilty of modern day slavery offences in Dover

By Sean Axtell

A modern day slavery ring - where workers were blackmailed and paid £20 a week- has been smashed.

Father and son Petr, 48, and Mario Makula, 26, both from the Czech Republic, were convicted for modern slavery and people trafficking offences.

Angela Makulova and Emil Rac were acquitted of all charges following the three month trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

Scroll down to hear from the chief crown prosecutor for the south east

Petr Makula (14447556)
Petr Makula (14447556)

Petr and Mario preyed on the homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics in the Czech Republic.

Victims were offered good money and free accommodation to work in Dover and Lydd, but were housed in squalor after being driven to Kent.

Up to 18 victims at any one time were living in the four bedroom home in Dryden Road, Dover, the court heard.

The Czech nationals lived without washing facilities in crowded cigarette smoke logged rooms with no fire exit, the jury heard.

With one bathroom between them, the taps in the wash basin and bath had been removed.

Dover District Council officer Joanne Perry told Judge Rupert Lowe: “I don’t know where the people living there would have been able to wash.

“They could have used the kitchen sink but that is unacceptable – it is for preparing food.”

Victim Baclav Ungar told the court he lived at the property, and was slapped and blackmailed into working at a Lydd factory for £20 a week.

Mr Unger told police he was a homeless drug addict in the Czech Republic when Petr Makula convinced him to move to the country for work.

But the promises of free accommodation, food and a job with a £100 weekly wage were lies.

Mr Unger, 40, told detectives he was housed with 17 other "slaves" in the terraced property, where they would suffer at Makula's hands.

Mario Makula (14447554)
Mario Makula (14447554)

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

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 and truck wash for seven days a week rarely with a day off, he alleged.

Prosecutors Richard Jory QC explained the men received between £10 to £30 per week after it was paid into Makula’s bank account.

Petr Makula, 48, and, Mario Makula, 26, of Granville Street in Dover will be sentenced for five charges related to people trafficking and modern day slavery at a later date.

Emil Rac, 39, of Rendezvous Street in Folkestone, and Angela Makulova, 27, of Tower Hill, Dover, were acquitted of all charges.

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

Lorna Lee, from the CPS, said: “This was a well-planned and co-ordinated conspiracy, where the victims, who were in a vulnerable position in their own countries, were promised a better life in the UK.

“The reality was starkly different. They were exploited for years, paid well below the minimum wage and forced to live in basic and cramped conditions, sometimes without electricity or running water.

“The men were effectively prisoners of the circumstances they found themselves in, knowing little English and not having any money or anywhere else to go.

“Some victims were threatened or beaten, leaving them too scared to complain.

"Meanwhile, the defendants were using the fruits of slave labour to buy foreign holidays, cars, and jewellery.”

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

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.

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