Two Men jailed for Modern Slavery of Car Wash Workers

Two men who ran a car wash firm in Carlisle have been jailed for modern slavery offences in relation to their workers.

Two Men jailed for Modern Slavery of Car Wash Workers f

They worked for a low wage with very long hours.

Defrim Paci, aged 42, and Sitar Hamid Ali, aged 33, of Carlisle, have been jailed for modern slavery offences in relation to their car wash workers.

The men set up and ran Shiny Carwash in Carlisle and exploited their workers.

Paci led the business and the leaseholder. He oversaw the entire operation.

Ali was the day-to-day manager and was responsible for recruitment and wages.

They targeted vulnerable Romanian nationals who were looking for work. Together they arranged for people from Romania to be brought into the UK to work in the car washes.

Many of the victims were from the same village and heard about what they thought was a work opportunity through word of mouth.

They worked for a low wage with very long hours.

One worker described having no breaks during the day, having skin burned by cleaning chemicals due to not receiving protective clothing.

Another said: “They treated me the same like they would do with a slave.”

During the trial in 2019, it was heard that up to a dozen people were forced to stay in a dirty, rat-infested house.

The workers believed if they were to leave the house, they would lose their job.

Part of the arrangement involved deductions taken from their wages to compensate for travel and accommodation, leaving the victims with as little as £20 per week to live on.

On how long his typical working day was, one worker said:

“Eleven hours per day. The working hours were the same every day.

“I started at 8 am, and I finished at 7 pm.”

The man said he worked between five and seven days per week.

Prosecutor Martin Reid asked the men about the pay he earned while working at the car wash at certain times in 2017.

He asked: “When you began working at the car wash, how much were you paid per day?”

The man replied: “£30 per day – for 11 hours.”

The rate was eventually raised to £45 per day, but still on the basis of an 11-hour working day.

The man received payslips but one from February 2017 stated that he was paid an hourly rate of £7.20 for a monthly hours total of 152.

Mr Reid asked: “Does this document reflect the hours you were working in February, 2017?”

The man replied: “The reality was totally different.”

He went on to say that paid no national insurance and never received an NI number until after he had left the car wash.

Following a trial, Paci and Ali were convicted of modern slavery offences for conspiracy to require persons to perform forced or compulsory labour and conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the transportation of others for the purposes of exploitation.

Ali was also convicted of ill-gotten gains after £16,000 was found in his car. A third man was acquitted after trial.

On July 30, 2021, Paci was sentenced to 45 months in prison. Ali was jailed for 39 months.

Alan Richardson of CPS North West said:

“The defendants targeted vulnerable Romanian nationals from poverty-stricken communities and took advantage of those vulnerabilities in order to maximise their profits and increase their own wealth.

“The CPS worked closely with the police to build a strong case, but we couldn’t have succeeded in bringing these men to justice without the help and support of the victims.

“I hope this case will give other victims of exploitation the confidence to come forward.”

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”