UK & World News
Travellers Found Guilty In Slavery Trial
Four members of a traveller family have been found guilty of forcing destitute men into what amounts to modern-day slavery.
Tommy Senior, James John, Patrick and Josie Connors were convicted of controlling, exploiting and verbally abusing 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 that the men were allegedly given almost no food, forced to wash in cold water and were paid little or no money for working up to 19 hours a day, six days a week.
The Connors took homeless people, drug addicts and alcoholics off the street and put them to work doing hard labour, six days a week with no pay. At the same time, they were kept in absolute squalor.
The slave masters were arrested after a police raid on a site near Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, last year.
Twenty-three men were "rescued" during that raid. One had been held for 15 years. When questioned, many told stories of being beaten and threatened by family members. They were told to work all hours laying driveways.
The Connors are thought to have made millions of pounds from their brutally-run paving business. Even on supposed days off, their captive labourers were made to clean their masters' yards and homes.
Among those who gave evidence during the trial was a Gulf War veteran. Some of those picked up by the family members with promise of work and somewhere to stay were recruited from soup kitchens.
One victim was held for seven years by Josie and James John. He was picked up at a motorway services while contemplating suicide. He told police that his life had become "just beatings, starvation and work".
The other man that husband and wife James John and Josie were convicted of holding, escaped after just a few months. He told the court his captors had told him if he tried to escape they would get another worker to murder him.
The man Tommy Senior and Patrick were convicted of using as a slave had been held for five years. He had a drink problem, he was promised pay of £30 a day but quickly realised he would not be paid.
When their victims were taken back to the Connors' compound they had their heads shaved, all possessions and ID taken away, and were told they had a new family and a new life. They were instructed to call those holding them "mum" and "dad".
Once freed, doctors found evidence on many men of broken ankles, ribs and wrists that had gone untreated. Many had suffered from scabies and scurvy. They also showed signs of malnutrition.
While the "slaves" were made to sleep in filthy conditions, crowded into caravans, sheds and even a horsebox, their masters were living in luxury.
During the trial the court heard disturbing accounts of the men's lives. Some were allowed to take a shower only once a month, and never had a change of clothes. Their accommodation was filthy and cold.
On some occasions the men were just given one meal per day. Even then, they were told they had five minutes in which to eat.
They were threatened that if they ran away another worker would be ordered to murder them. If they spoke out they were punched, kicked and beaten with broom handles.
When the man who had been held for 15 years was rescued and driven away by the police he received a phone call from Tommy Senior. The former captive's demeanour was said to have completely changed afterwards, he was visibly shaking and looked terrified.
The court was told Tommy Senior told the man: "Tell 'em we're family and tell 'em you're happy, come back to the site."
Even the most loyal and obedient slaves were still treated appallingly. The court heard that one was beaten so often he was "used like a human punch bag".
The four defendants will be sentenced on Thursday and a decision will also be made about a number of other charges on which the jury failed to reach a verdict.
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what do you think?
I cannot believe that poor, misunderstood travellers would do such a thing. Surely there must be some mistake.....................
I find it hard to believe that travellers would do such a thing - their normally so friendly and nonviolent, and have such good taste at weddings. .
They'll be out by Friday then. Just like I've checked 'free' broadband advertised on orange. Small print says twenty pounds a month. The whole establishment think we are all thick.
stevie may, even though we are not related i totally agree with you. i've never met an agressive, abusive, theiving, lying, tax dodging, amoral traveller in my entire life. i don't know why they get such a bad press, prescott had it right when he said they should be regarded as a " special case" when totally ignoring planning laws!!!!!!!!!!!! we should be proud of this countries ethnic minority heritage.
Well at least they were not being burdons on the tax payer. Perhaps these travellers have the right idea!
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Do you think that remark was being clever! Youi sad person
yeah not like all these immigrants that are flooding the country draining our resources eh dave
Welcome to 21st Century Britain, where extreme poverty and slavery still exist!
just in case. my post was supposed to be drenched in sarcasm.
Don't worry, I think everyone realises that - and many of us agree with you entirely.
I have a plan why don't you give northern Ireland to the travellers.
An even better plan, give them the Irish Republic instead!
This is a disgrace, and natural justice demands that the travellers pay these unfortunates adequate compensation and what remains of their assets should be confiscated. The travelling community should be told to settle down, knuckle down and calm down, or be sent back to Ireland (or Romania) pronto.
how can anyone not feel for these poor misunderstood persecuted group of people as they travel the lenght and breadth of this country shunned by home dwellers. jovially they go from door to door helping people with ant tasks they may need doing. roofing, driveways, tree felling etc and all for a pittance. tidying the countryside as they go.teetotal and peaceful they bring joy in their appearances. always willing to help out police with any enquiries they may have just think how much poorer our countrside would be with the demise of these gentlemen and woman of the roads
Ha ha ha!
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Hey let's leave it Harriets ladies club to sort it her club is growing alright now trade union leader just promoted..
I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, like Gordon and others here that these scions of decent travelling society should be so misunderstood over what was I'm sure, a simple misunderstanding on the part of their slaves - err I mean employees.
Do any of you here actually have any compassion for the people they abused? When your too busy slagging of the travellers
Ask yourself this question Donna - who did the abusing? Then you'l understand the tone of most comments
I've not disputing what type of people the travellers are but the flippant remarks as if its a big joke does leave a bitter taste in my mouth I'm sorry
ive found a good swig of mouth wash always helps donna
Fair enough Donna, I didn't mean to be rude to you. Just because some of our remarks are caustic, doesn't mean we don't care. What it does show that we are angry with the treatment received by these vunerable people - the same as careing but expressed in a different form
Well yes I'm afraid it has and I make no apology for that
donna, you don't seem to understand people very well. of course we care about the victims and the care manifests itself in anger towards the perpetrators of such cruelty.
I normally disagree with the majority... Not this time
Leave it to Francis and Harriet they will stand up for them.??
There is a difference between travellers and genuine gyp sies who would be horrified at such a thing.
Pathetic politically correct orange. Gyp sy is neither an offensive or racist term but I'm not allowed to write it. Even when speaking of them positively
These were evil people, no doubt about it, doesn't mean they all are tho...