A crown court jury has heard from a Romanian worker who said he was paid £20 for a nine-day stint at a Carlisle car wash business.

The man was giving evidence in the case of three men accused of conspiring to force Romanian nationals to perform “forced labour".

The defendants – Sitar Ali, 33, Defrim Paci, 42, and Jetmir Paci, 37 – all deny offences arising out of events at the city’s Warwick Road Shiny Car Wash business.

They are accused of conspiring, between January 2016 and June of the following year, to require their employees to perform “forced or compulsory labour” at the car wash business.

They also deny conspiring to arrange the travel of Romanian nationals with a view them being exploited at Shiny Car Wash.

In his evidence, the former worker said he started work at the car wash business on Monday, May 1, 2017. He said he was taken to a property in Compton Street, Carlisle, where he lived while in Carlisle.

Asked what it was like, he said: “Horrible.” It was “dirty”, he said, and there was a broken window. “I had to disinfect the shower room to be able to use it,” he said.

His £30 a week rent for the accommodation was “withheld” by his employer, he said. The man said he worked 11-hour days at the car wash but was provided with no protective or waterproof clothing or footwear.

Staff worked in their everyday clothes, he said, and he was left “soaking wet".

The man said: “I wasn’t able to stand on my feet anymore; the water had eaten away at my feet.

“I’d been working continuously for nine days.”

The defence suggested that work clothing and safety equipment were available but staff were not using it.

The man said: "They didn't have absolutely anything. If they'd had it, I don't think they gave some. Everyone wore their personal clothes."

Questioned by defence counsel, the man denied a suggestion that he worked for Shiny from May 6 and was paid £110 rather than £20.

The barrister said the figure was reduced by the worker’s reduction for his travel costs to the UK, his rent, and a £30 advance his boss had given him earlier in the week.

The man accepted he could have left the job had he wanted to but he said he had no money to do so.

The defendants – Ali, of Adelaide Street, Carlisle; Defrim Paci, of Windmill Close, Nottingham; and Jetmir Paci, of Minimum Terrace, Chesterfield – have not yet given evidence.

The trial continues.