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One such task, as witnessed by the bemused neighbour, was stripping the springs out of mattresses so that they could be sold as scrap metal.When they complained at the lack of payment they were told: ‘In Britain, you have to earn money for Queen Elizabeth.’One who asked to leave the house to go for a walk was informed, ‘You are here to work not walk’ and was prevented from going outside.
While other countries such as France and Germany imposed curbs on workers from the new EU member states, the UK instead drew up a ‘light touch’ package of immigration controls.
Most strange of all was the behaviour of two people spotted at the rear of the property one day.‘They dragged a mattress out into the garden and used a hedge-cutter to chop it in two,’ the neighbour said.
‘I thought they were throwing it out, but they took the two halves back into the house.‘At the time I wondered whether it was for people to sleep on. Because what is now known is that those men and women living in the £225,000 property in Newcastle were held there against their will.
First there were its inhabitants, hollow-eyed and gaunt, among them a shaven-headed youth so thin ‘he looked like he was from The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas’, the Holocaust movie set in a Nazi extermination camp.
Then there was the fact that the occupants never used the front door, preferring instead to come and go via a back gate secured with a heavy-duty lock.
The Rafaels were arrested and charged with slavery, trafficking and money laundering.