Published: 15:01, 31 July 2019
| Updated: 21:17, 31 July 2019
The leaders of a modern day slavery ring - where workers were beaten and paid £5 a week- have been jailed.
Father and son Petr, 48, and Mario Makula, 26, both from the Czech Republic, were sent down for a total of 13 years for modern slavery and people trafficking offences in Dover.
Petr has been sentenced to eight and a half years and Mario for four-and-a-half years.
Police executing at warrant the Dover home of Petr Makula
Judge Rupert Lowe said: "You Petr Makula are a strong well built and habitually violent man with a considerable temper.
"Many of the workers were victims of beatings at your hands.
"Your standard form of attack was an open handed slap.
"You Mario came into the conspiracy very young, you were brought up by your father thinking exploiting people was normal."
The judge told how Petr made £900,000 throughout the conspiracy, but believed the amount was higher.
Meanwhile, some vulnerable workers worked 24 hours straight at the Lydd factory, others were so poor they would hunt for cigarette butts on Dover's streets.
Petr Makula set up a fake recruitment firm called Cladron as a veneer to the complex operation. He would go on to pay workers how much "he thought he could get away with," the judge added.
He spent money on a Mercedez, Range Rover, Audi, gold, and twice went on holiday to Dubai while telling workers the business was sinking.
There were gasps and sobbing in the public gallery as the pair waved to friends and family while being led from the dock.
Petr and Mario preyed on the homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics in the Czech Republic for 11 years.
Victims were offered good money and free accommodation to work in Dover and Lydd, but were housed in squalor after being driven a thousand miles to Kent.
Some were paid as little as £5 a week to work long hours in a factory and car wash, on average slaves earned £50 a week.
The court heard there were 15 complainants in total, it believed there could have been dozens of victims throughout the conspiracy's duration.
Meanwhile Petr and Mario would use the fruits of their labour to buy cars, jewellery and foreign holidays.
It is unclear how many victims were exploited for more than a decade and how much cash they raked in.
One 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.
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.”
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.
Prosecutors Richard Jory QC and Emma Smith, told the judge Petr had previous convictions for fraud. Mario however, was a man of good character.
Paramjit Ahluwalia, for Petr, argued her client was of gypsy heritage, and overcame "prejudice growing up."
She added he had been "respectful" throughout the hearing and not all workers were paid a pittance.
Tobias Long, for Mario, said the father-of-three's family had been "torn apart" by the proceedings.
"You Mario came into the conspiracy very young, you were brought up by your father thinking exploiting people was normal" - Judge Rupert Lowe
Petr Makula, 48, and, Mario Makula, 26, of Granville Street in Dover were found guilty of nine charges related to people trafficking and modern day slavery between them.
Petr was found guilty of six and Mario three, during the three month trial.
Emil Rac, 39, of Rendezvous Street in Folkestone, and Angela Makulova, 27, of Tower Hill, Dover, were acquitted of all charges.
Senior investigating officer detective inspector, James Derham, said: "Human trafficking and modern slavery are two of the fastest-growing international crimes and a large source of income for the people responsible, who care little for the misery they inflict on victims who are lured to the UK on the promise of a better life.
"Petr and Mario Makula made no secret of the fact that they were living the high life, posting images of themselves on social media while flaunting the proceeds of their crimes.
"What was less obvious was the harm they were causing to their workers who were forced to endure horrendous living conditions with virtually no money to spend on themselves.
"They spared little if any thought for anyone else’s welfare while they benefited from the misery of others, and are now quite rightly in prison."
If you suspect human trafficking or modern slavery you can report it at www.kent.police.uk/report or by calling 101 or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111 or the National Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121700.