'Despicable' modern slavers in Cambridgeshire forced their victim to give up her newborn baby
A couple have been jailed for keeping a woman in "appalling" slavery for more than four years - even forcing her to give up her newborn baby.
The woman was subjected to beatings and intimidation by the pair, who set her to work and stole thousands from her in wages.
The victim had been persuaded to travel to the UK from Slovakia by the main offender, Julia Rafaelova, in October 2013, with the promise of a better life in Peterborough.
But when she arrived, heavily pregnant, she was forced to live in an overcrowded house and work as a household servant for Rafaelova and her partner Nemeth Milan, 49, under threats of violence.
Before she gave birth to her baby in November 2013, social services were given false information by Rafaelova and her relative Skarletta Rafaelova, leading to the woman being forced to give her baby up for adoption.
Julia Rafaelova, 51, of Huntly Grove in Peterborough, was jailed for 10 years after being 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.
Nemeth, 49, also of Huntly Grove, was jailed for two years after being convicted at trial of holding a person in slavery.
Skarletta Rafaelova was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of taking a child from a person having lawful control, conspiracy to defraud and holding a person in slavery.
Nemeth and Julia Rafaelova made the victim cook, clean and even shoplift for them.
Five days after the social services visit, the woman gave birth and, knowing that she would not be allowed to keep her baby, returned to her exploitation in Saxon Road, Peterborough.
Her abuse grew worse from there, with Skarletta Rafaelova taking her to a recruitment agency to sign her up for work, but giving Julia Rafaelova's bank details so that her wages were paid directly to her.
After a period of work, the family then signed the victim up to receive benefits - claiming that she had serious mental health needs, allowing Julia Rafaelova to claim a carer's allowance.
Documents from a Slovakian psychiatric institution were presented to the authorities, and the victim was told to stay silent and pretend she had mental health issues.
Between April 2016 and April 2019 her abusers successfully claimed more than £41,500 in various benefits - all of which was paid into bank accounts controlled by Julia Rafaelova.
They also signed the victim up to another recruitment agency, giving her a different name as they were already claiming benefits under her own name.
In 2016, Julia Rafaelova successfully used the victim to apply for a mobility vehicle - a new BMW - a car she kept until 2019.
In 2018, after more than four years of slavery, the woman was able to escape after a chance meeting with her now-partner, whom she had worked with at a factory.
She told him what she had been through and the police were contacted.
Police said despite their investigations it was impossible to accurately identify how much the family stole in wages as the victim worked under different names for more than four years.
PC Nick Webber said: "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.”
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