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Horrific story of Peterborough ‘modern slavery’ violence and fraud

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A woman was kept in “appalling” slavery for more than four years by her own family and was even forced to give up her new-born child.

The victim was subjected to violence and intimidation by relatives who stole thousands of pounds from her in wages.

The main offender, her 51-year-old aunt Julia Rafaelova, had persuaded the victim to travel to the UK from Slovakia in October 2013 having fallen pregnant during forced prostitution controlled by Julia.

The victim was promised a better life and to be reunited with the rest of her family.

When the pregnant victim arrived, she found her family were not in the UK.

She stayed in an overcrowded property in Saxon Road, Peterborough, and slept on a mattress on the kitchen floor.

She was forced to clean the house, cook meals for the family and even shoplift. If she failed to do so she was beaten by Julia or her aunt’s partner Milan Nemeth, 49.

On 22 November 2013, social services attended the victim’s address where her cousin Skarletta Rafaelova, 32, translated false information, and along with accounts from Julia the victim was forced to give the child up for adoption.

Five days later, on 28 November, the victim’s child was born, knowing she was unable to keep the baby and unable to speak English the victim left the hospital the same day, returning to her exploitation.

Yesterday (23 November) at Peterborough Crown Court Julia Rafaelova, Milan Nemeth, and Skarletta Rafaelova were convicted of multiple charges, including slavery and child abduction after being found guilty following trial.

PC Nick Webber said: “The victim in this case was exploited by the very people she should have been able to trust – her family.

“Their treatment of her was appalling – subjecting her to violence and intimidation as they stole from her for more than four years.

“Forcing a mother to give up her child to allow further financial gain is utterly despicable and a trauma the victim will never get over.

“Modern slavery is happening right here in Cambridgeshire. We need the public and professionals to be aware of the signs to look out for and report any concerns.”

The court heard the exploitation of the victim gathered pace after she had given up her baby.

In February 2014, the victim attended a recruitment agency with Skarletta.

She helped the victim to register with the agency, but ensured the wages were paid into a bank account of Julia.

After a brief period of working for this and a second recruitment agency, Julia decided to use the victim to claim benefits.

Julia and Skarletta completed the forms on behalf of the victim.

They claimed the victim had a serious mental health illness and forced her to go along with the scam to secure the extra benefits, as well as Carer’s Allowance for Julia.

Julia and Skarletta were both present at the necessary medicals, with the aunt producing documentation from a Slovakian psychiatric institution.

The victim was forced to remain silent during these consultations, with her family speaking for her, and act in a manner which supported she had mental health issues.

Between April 2016 and April 2019, they successfully claimed more than £41,500 in various benefits – all of which was paid into bank accounts controlled by Julia.

In September 2014, the victim was taken to another recruitment agency, with Skarletta again completing the forms and ensuring wages were paid into her mother’s account or accounts she had control over.

Due to benefits being claimed in the victim’s name, she was forced to use other family members’ identity to work.

Not content with fraudulently claiming benefits, in 2016 Julia successfully used the victim to apply for a mobility vehicle – a brand-new BMW – something she kept until 2019.

In 2017 Julia claimed working tax credits on behalf of the victim, with the money being paid into her account.

This process continued, with the victim working various jobs under other family members’ names and all wages going into bank accounts controlled by Julia.

In September 2018, the victim managed to escape from the family.

The court has not found it possible to accurately identify how much the family stole in wages as the victim was working under several different names for more than four years.

The victim finally managed to escape following a chance meeting with her now partner, whom she had met three years previously on a factory production line.

She was banned from speaking to him by the family and forced to leave the site to prevent further contact.

Following her escape Milan searched for the victim and tried to get her to return to the family home.

On 7 November 2018 Milan tried to force the victim into a car but was prevented by members of the public.

In December 2018, the victim and her partner became homeless.

When seeking support with accommodation the victim started to disclose what had happened to her and police were contacted.

Julia Rafaelova, of Huntly Grove, Peterborough, was found guilty of taking a child from a person having lawful control, conspiracy to defraud, two counts of fraud and knowingly holding another person in slavery.

She was found not guilty on an additional count of wounding with intent.

Milan Nemeth, also of Huntly Grove, Peterborough, was found guilty of holding a person in slavery.

Skarletta Rafaelova, of Peterborough, was found guilty of taking a child from a person having lawful control, conspiracy to defraud and holding a person in slavery.

For more information on modern slavery and the signs to look for, visit Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s website.

 

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