Four guilty in 'slave labour' trial

Western Telegraph: Four travellers have been convicted of forcing destitute men to work like slaves Four travellers have been convicted of forcing destitute men to work like slaves

Four members of a traveller family have been found guilty of forcing destitute men into servitude, subjecting them to "mental torture" by making them work for up to 19 hours a day without pay.

Tommy Connors Senior, his son, Patrick, his daughter Josie and her husband James John Connors were convicted of controlling, exploiting, verbally abusing and beating the men for financial gain at a caravan site near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire.

During the trial, the jury at Luton Crown Court heard that the complainants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were forced to work in the Connors' block paving business.

The 13-week trial heard the men were given next to no food, forced to wash in cold water and paid little or no money for working up to 19 hours a day, six days a week.

Josie Connors, 31, and James John Connors, 34, were both convicted of two counts of holding a person in servitude and two counts of requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Josie Connors sobbed in the dock and embraced her husband as other members of the family wept in the public gallery when the verdicts were read out.

James John, known at Big Jim, was also convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm but cleared of additional counts of holding a person in servitude and requiring a person to perform forced labour. The jury failed to reach a verdict on a battery charge.

Tommy Connors Senior, 52, faced 11 counts and was convicted of one servitude charge and one forced labour charge, as well as one of ABH. The jury failed to reach verdicts on seven counts and cleared him of one charge of conspiracy to hold a person in servitude.

Patrick Connors, 20, was convicted of conspiring to hold a person in servitude, as well as false labour and ABH charges. He was cleared of two counts of conspiracy to hold a person in servitude but the jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts of conspiracy to hold a person in servitude and four of conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

A total of seven members of the family were on trial but the jury could not reach verdicts on charges regarding Tommy Junior, 27, Johnny, 28, and James Connors, 24, after deliberating for 38 hours and 48 minutes. It cleared them all of several other counts.

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