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'Slaves' found living in house in Dryden Road, Dover

By Sean Axtell

Police discovered 12 "slaves" living in squalor and allegedly being forced to work as labourers in Kent, a court heard.

Outside the property, in Dryden Road, Dover, appeared a typical four-bedroom home with its tidy exterior and double glazing.

But inside a dozen Czech nationals lived without washing facilities in crowded cigarette smoke logged rooms with no fire exit, a jury was told.

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)

The discovery came as part of a crackdown on a suspected modern day slavery ring in Dover during May last year.

Now, Petr Makula, 48, and relatives are being tried at Canterbury Crown Court on slavery and people-trafficking charges.

Dover District Council officer Joanne Perry described arriving as police led a dozen residents from the property at 4.30am on May 16.

“There were fridge/freezers in most of the rooms and people’s personal effects next to the beds,” she said.

“There were six beds in total on the bottom floor and six on the top floor. There were TVs in all the rooms.

“There was one bathroom, the taps had been removed from the wash basin and bath, that is unusual to find in my job.

"I didn't know whether the work was legal" - Baclav Unger

“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.”

Ms Perry told Judge Rupert Lowe the conditions created the most serious level of risk under the Housing Act 2004.

With no smoke alarms, access only by a side door, and significant evidence of smoking inside the property, Ms Perry dubbed the building “concerning.”

Baclav Unger claims he used to live at the property.

He told the court he was slapped and blackmailed into working at a Lydd factory for £20 a week.

Canterbury Crown Court (11817158)
Canterbury Crown Court (11817158)

Mr Unger told police he was a homeless drug addict in the Czech Republic when Mr 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, he told the jury in a previous hearing.

Mr Unger, 40, told detectives he was housed with 17 other "slaves" in the terraced property, 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 don’t know where the people living there would have been able to wash" - Joanne Perry

“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.

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, 48, 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, deny five charges related to people trafficking and modern day slavery.

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

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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