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Mum and daughter forced to work as slaves for neighbour after offering to help with chores

The victims of a family jailed for 46 years for treating them like slaves have spoken about their horrific ordeal.

Kate Dagley, 46, and Karen Jenkins, 27, thought they were being kind when they said they would carry out chores for neighbour Jean Kelly, 54, because she was in a wheelchair.

The mother and daughter were separated and kept in flats seven miles apart in Coventry where they were beaten with a baseball bat and fed scraps including uncooked pasta from a bin.

Karen pictured in hospital, the day after she was rescued from the Kelly family (Picture: Cavendish)
Kate pictured in hospital, more than three weeks after she was rescued from the flat (Picture: Cavendish)

Kelly and her family made them wash and clean for them, feed their pet dog and change their babies nappies before they were rescued by police when a neighbour heard Kate’s cries.

Both victims, who suffer from learning difficulties, were so malnourished it was thought they would not be able to eat food properly.

Kate had fractures to her back, two broken ribs and bruises on her face. Karen suffered facial injuries, a fractured breastbone and a broken finger.

It also emerged that they were given a cigarette a day as payment for the work they did for the Kelly family.

Kate said: ‘The three weeks in which we were held separately were the worst of our lives and I truly believed I was going to die. I had no idea where Karen had gone but knew something terrible was happening to her too.

Kate had fractures to her back, two broken ribs and bruises on her face (Picture: Cavendish)
Jean Kelly, 53, and her husband Michael Kelly, 43 were jailed for 14 years each (Picture: Paul Beard / SWNS)

‘During the time I was held prisoner, I was forced to clean for Jean and if she didn’t feel I had done a good enough job, I’d suffer the most horrific beating. From sunrise to sunset I’d be forced to scrub her flat, prepare her food, wash her clothes and tidy up. It was torture.

‘When I was rescued I managed to ask where Karen was before I passed out. When I woke up I was in hospital, totally distraught As Karen’s mum, it’s my job to protect her and I felt I had let her down. I was devastated when I saw her tiny, bruised body.’

Kate and Karen’s ordeal happened in early 2016 when Kate became friends with Kelly and husband Michael, 43. They took her daughter on holiday to Blackpool to say thank you for their kindness, but fell out after falsely suspecting she took £50 from them.

Miss Jenkins was lured out of her mother’s flat on the pretext of helping with childcare only for her mother to be then be locked inside her own home with a key.

Miss Dagley added: ‘I heard a key turning in the lock and I remember my heart sinking and thinking to myself, ‘Karen never locks the door’.

Mrs Kelly was described as the ‘ringleader’ of the group (Picture: Paul Beard / SWNS)

‘I was in a panic and I ran to the door and tried the handle but it wouldn’t budge and I started banging on the door and screaming in the hopes somebody would hear me and rescue me.

‘Suddenly, from the other side of the door I heard Michael laughing. At first, I thought it must have been a joke, but then I became seriously concerned. I was terrified and wondered, in that moment, what on earth he had planned for me.

‘It didn’t take me very long to find out. Later that day he opened the door and demanded I follow him. He took me next door where Jean ordered me to wash her dishes, do the cleaning and look after her.

‘I asked where Karen was, but nobody would tell me. They took my phone, so I couldn’t even call her or call for help.’

She said Kelly would call her into a bedroom where she wielded a wooden baseball bat she named ‘Bob’ and warned Miss Dagley she would be ‘seeing a lot of him’. Miss Dagley said: ‘They would lock me up every night, and then let me out in the morning to help Jean in her flat, and then lock me up again at night.

Mr Kelly was jailed for two counts of grievous bodily harm and conspiracy to falsely imprison (Picture: Paul Beard / SWNS)

‘On one occasion, Jean hit my head and when I started bleeding, she used superglue to seal the nasty gash on my forehead.

‘One day, Jean was particularly angry and ordered Michael to beat me. I howled in pain as he struck my lower back over and over again, and then Jean struck my elbow with Bob so hard that the bone pierced through my skin.

‘I was sure I was going to die but the family refused to get me any medical help. Instead I was left to develop infections, drifting in and out of consciousness as my body throbbed with pain. My only meals were scraps from the bin or small pieces of dry pasta.

‘They would leave raw meat out for me too, but I didn’t eat it for obvious reasons. They were so wicked.

Anastasia Hitt, 25, and her partner Ian Healy, 29, were also jailed(Picture: Paul Beard / SWNS)

‘In time it dawned on me that nobody was coming for me. And I still had no idea where Karen was. In desperation I grabbed a marker pen and a piece of paper and scribbled a note to say I was being held prisoner and needed help.

‘I had planned to hold the paper to the window when I was alone, but Michael caught me and began to hit me with ‘Bob’. I honestly believed that was the last time they’d hurt me, because I felt so weak that I was sure I was going to die.’

Police discovered Miss Jenkins had been held prisoner in the flat of Kelly’s daughter Anastasia Hitt, 25 seven miles away in the Wyken area of Coventry where she was ordered to sleep on the living room floor.

In October last year Kelly, was jailed for 14 years after she was convicted of conspiracy to imprison the victims, inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent and forcing them to perform compulsory labour.

She was said to be the ‘guiding word’ in the detention of the victims and took ‘ghoulish delight’ in boasting to the rest of her family about the injuries she inflicted on the two women.

The court heard how Healy also ‘punched and kicked’ Ms Jenkins with intention of causing GBH (Picture: Paul Beard / SWNS)

Kelly’s husband and Hitt’s boyfriend Ian Healy, 29, admitted false imprisonment, and inflicting GBH with intent were also each locked up for 14 years. Hitt was jailed for four and a half years after she pleaded guilty to falsely imprisonment keeping Miss Jenkins in a state of forced labour.

In statements read to Warwick Crown Court, Miss Dagley said she feared her eyesight ‘had been damaged long term’ and suffers pain from damaged ligaments in her right shoulder when doing ‘simple tasks such as getting dressed’.

Miss Jenkins now needs the help of a stick to walk and said: ‘I don’t remember how many beatings I had but I was constantly getting booted and punched, booted and punched.’;

Sentencing Judge Anthony Potter said the victims were treated in an ‘utterly barbaric manner’ and added: ‘The fact that human beings in Great Britain can be treated like this by other members of a civilised community is profoundly shocking.’

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