A father and son who drove around in flashy cars and holidayed in Dubai while keeping 19 slaves at a time in a four-bedroom home and paying them £5 a week have been jailed for a total of 13 years.
Petr Makula, 48, and his son Mario, 26, brought in homeless and alcoholic men from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and installed them in a single house in Dover, Kent.
The Czech pair set up their own recruitment agency to provide workers to a tile factory in nearby Lydd and a hand car wash but pocketed the lion’s share of the wages themselves.
Petr told his victims he couldn’t pay them because his business was in trouble – but is thought to have made around £1million from the trafficking plot.
Son Mario was pictured dripping in expensive jewellery and driving around in supercars, while his father enjoyed lavish trips to Dubai.
Mario Makula is pictured posing with an Audi while he exploited men from the Czech Republic
The pair enjoyed a lavish lifestyle while the men they exploited were paid a pittance
Meanwhile the exploited men worked up to 36 hours straight and were not given days off, sometimes for years on end.
Anyone who spoke out against the conditions was beaten or humiliated by the older man, prosecutors said.
Describing the conditions the workers were kept in, a spokesman for Kent Police said: ‘Hot water was rare and there were no taps in the bathroom.
‘Those living in the property also had to share a food budget of just £100 per week, which would only stretch to one basic meal per day that usually consisted of pasta or potatoes with sauce.
‘Petr Makula controlled the pay of all of his workers and gave them different amounts every week, but always a lot less than what they were entitled to.
‘The cost of accommodation was also taken out of their wages, with the living wage of one worker calculated as being less than 50p an hour.’
Mario was pictured dripping jewellery bought with the money he made from the car wash slaves while his father was pictured outside the Real Madrid cafe in Dubai
Social media pictures shown at the trial show Mario and a friend posing next to a Range Rover and a BMW
Police used an angle grinder to break into the house where the exploited workers were kept and arrested the father following an investigation in 2018.
It is thought the men had been bringing slaves to the UK since 2007. One victim is estimated to have lost out on more than £27,000 over a four-year period.
Eight of those who had been exploited gave evidence against the pair in a trial at Canterbury Crown Court, where a jury was shown social media images of the pair’s lavish lifestyle.
The father and son were found guilty of multiple offences relating to human trafficking and modern slavery and Petr was jailed for eight-and-a-half years and Mario for four-and-a-half years today.
Bizarrely, father Petr tried to get a lighter sentence by claiming he had overcome prejudice against his gypsy heritage.
Petr’s daughter Angela Makula, 27, and his nephew, Emil Rac, 40, were both acquitted of all the charges against them.
Photos posted on social media show the tattooed-covered Makula Snr enjoying holidays
Police said the pair were ‘living the high life’ at the expensive of the men they exploited
Following the pair’s jailing, Kent Police 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.
‘Tackling human trafficking and modern slavery is a priority for Kent Police and we will be relentless in our pursuit of those whom we believe are responsible for the exploitation of others.
‘Such offences have no place in a civilised society and we are keen to do everything we can to prevent them from happening and protect those who are most at risk.’
Petr (left) has been sentenced to eight and a half years and Mario (right) for four-and-a-half
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.’
Slavery victims are forced back into exploitation by lack of support, say charities
Victims of human traffickers face the risk of further exploitation after they have been rescued due to a lack of support in the UK, according to three charities which work with them.
The British Red Cross (BRC), Hestia and Ashiana say the Home Office policy of giving survivors 45 days of support leaves them vulnerable to traffickers again.
They are now calling on the Home Office to provide support for at least one year to anyone recognised as a survivor of trafficking.
The charities worked together on a 12-month pilot providing long-term support for survivors, helping 70 people from outside the EU.
Half of those supported were women who had survived sexual exploitation. Despite this, most were placed in mixed-sex accommodation.
Abigail Ampofo, operations director at Hestia, said: ‘Modern slavery is rife in our communities and the need for long-term support is vital to ensure victims can rebuild their lives.
‘Without this support, we know that many victims are forced back into slavery and the cycle of abuse continues.
‘We hope the Government’s Modern Slavery Act reflects the need for long-term support for victims and remains a world-renowned piece of legislation.’