A jury in the trial of three men accused of modern slavery crimes said to centre on a Carlisle car wash and Romanian men who worked at the business has retired to consider its verdict.
Defrim Paci, 42, is accused of heading up a conspiracy which, the prosecution allege, comprised “forced labour and arranging for people to come to the UK with a view to their being exploited” during 2016 and 2017.
Paci has been on trial at the city’s crown court with his 37-year-old brother, Jetmir, and Sitar Ali, 33 — manager of Shiny car wash, Warwick Road. They also stand accused of illegal involvement. The three men each deny two modern slavery charges while Ali further denies possessing criminal cash after £16,000 was found in a vehicle.
Over the course of five weeks, the jury has listened to a wealth of evidence. This includes accounts from car wash workers who allege they were compelled to work long hours for low pay and without proper breaks; were burned by chemicals, not given protective clothing and had to buy £2 gloves from Tesco; and housed in “very dirty” accommodation — said to have been infested with insects and containing rats — having paid to be transported to the UK from their home country of Romania.
One told police: “They treated me the same like they would do with a slave.”
Defrim Paci, of Windmill Close, Sutton-in-Ashfield; Jetmir Paci, of Minimum Terrace, Chesterfield; and Ali, of Adelaide Street, Carlisle, did not give evidence from the witness box during the hearing.
As he gave legal directions and summed up evidence in the case, Judge Nicholas Barker told jurors there were “many issues” to consider, saying: “I make the point boldly now that the facts are for you, and for you alone.”
And as the jury prepared to start its deliberations today, Judge Barker said he could only accept unanimous verdicts until such time that further directions were given.
He told jury members they had been “admirably patient” throughout the lengthy trial.
“It is now our turn to be patient with you,” said the judge. “It is entirely a matter for a jury to decide how long it takes to come to decisions in a case.”