Carlisle car wash owners 'ran modern slavery ring'

Image caption,
Brothers Defrim and Jetmir Paci each deny two offences

Three men ran a modern day slavery ring at a car wash, a jury has heard.

Workers at Carlisle's Shiny car wash suffered chemicals burns and were made to live in dirty, rat-infested homes, Carlisle Crown Court was told.

Brothers Defrim and Jetmir Paci, 42 and 37, and Sitar Ali, 33, deny exploiting Romanian nationals at the Warwick Road business during 2016 and 2017.

Prosecutors said the case involved arranging for people to come to the UK to be exploited.

Prosecutor Martin Reid said ‪Defrim Paci "operated at the top of the conspiracy" having been "responsible for buying the land and setting up" the hand car wash business.

‪His brother was involved in building work at the site and the transportation of staff, the court heard.

This was managed by Mr Ali, who was responsible for the day-to-day treatment of the staff, their wages and payment for their transport to the UK, their accommodation and rent collection.

Image caption,
Sitar Ali denies three offences

‪Mr Reid said the workers "were compelled to work long hours in bad conditions for little pay, their labour being exploited for the benefit of the defendants".

‪Mr Reid told jurors they would hear from workers who had identity cards taken from them until travel cost debt was repaid, were required to live in "very dirty" multi-occupancy accommodation and were "faced with having only £20 in their pockets from a week's work of 11 hours a day, six days a week".

‪Some described having no breaks, of having skin "burned" by cleaning chemicals and of receiving no protective clothing, Mr Reid said.

One said: "They treated me the same like they would do with a slave."

Image caption,
The three men are alleged to have brought in people to work at the Shiny car wash

‪The Paci brothers and Mr Ali each deny two charges.

One alleges conspiracy to require others to perform forced or compulsory labour at Shiny in Carlisle; the other alleges conspiracy to facilitate travel with a view to exploitation. Mr Ali further denies possessing criminal cash.

‪Defrim Paci, of Windmill Close, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and Jetmir Paci, of Minimum Terrace, Chesterfield, both told police when interviewed they had no involvement or knowledge of Shiny Carlisle's day to day operations.

Mr Ali, of Adelaide Street, Carlisle, also denies possessing criminal cash.

‪The trial is expected to last about six weeks.

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