IT HAS been 'three months of hell' that has cost them their reputation and an estimated £200,000 in lost business.
Kreshnik Dida and his brother Avdi's world came crashing down around them as they found themselves facing charges of slavery after teams of police swooped on 27-year-old's Kreshnik's car wash firm in Bitterne.
Thrown into custody cells for four days, the brothers protested their innocence at every opportunity but they were soon charged with holding ten men as slaves for a period of five months.
The dramatic raid sparked national headlines and soon Kreshnik saw his once thriving business collapse as motorists, once happy to use Dida Car Wash, suddenly associated the name with slavery and avoided at all costs.
But today the two brothers stand acquitted of all the charges before the case even reached trial - after prosecutors revealed they would be offering no evidence against the pair and asked for the case to be dropped.
While the pair are relieved their names have been cleared, they fear the damage already caused to their reputation may never be fixed.
The pair stood in the dock at Southampton Crown Court to hear the Crown Prosecution Service explain that they did not plan to proceed with the case.
The hearing was told that both men faced charges relating to holding ten men in servitude between December 2013 and May 2014 following the raid by police on May 22.
Prosecutor Michael Forster explained while there was “no doubt” then ten men were treated “badly” by the defendants, after receiving the full transcripts from the apparent “victims”, there was not enough evidence to support a realistic hope of conviction.
After the hearing, Kreshnik, who lives in Chandler's Ford with his wife, who he married just a week before the raid, told the Daily Echo that while he is pleased, the lasting effects on his business have been devastating.
At its busiest, Dida Car Wash, which he opened in 2009, would see about 120 customers pass through a day but now those numbers have dwindled, which he claims has cost him around £200,000 in lost business.
His insisted that claims that his staff would earn just £5 a week were “rubbish” and insisted his workers can earn up to £420 a week, without including tips.
He said: “It has been three months of hell.
“I work 90 hours a week to make my business a success but that was all destroyed in an instant by the police raid.
“Now people think we are connected to slavery but that is not true. I have never been in trouble before and my employees are my friends, who I treat better than my own brothers.
“How can they be slaves if they are serving the public? Now I am getting messages from those ten men, asking for their jobs back.”
His brother Avdi, 26, has been left even more confused by the ordeal, claiming that he doesn't have any connection with the business and lives in London, only visiting Southampton to visit his family.
The unemployed truck driver said: “This has been the worst time of my life. Our good name has been ruined by all this.
“I was treated like a criminal, yet I thought in this country you were innocent until proven guilty.
“I don't have anything to do with the business and I don't even know who these people are.”
One employee who was supporting the brothers in court was Flavius Avram, who has worked at the car wash for a year.
The 24-year-old added: “It is a good job and Kreshnik is a good boss. He is more like a friend than a boss.”