Jailed slave-holding travellers may have had 100s of victims
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Legal
Two members of a traveller family have been jailed for a total of 13 years after being found guilty of slavery.
Tommy Connors, 53, and son Patrick, 21, both of Greenacres, Little Billington, Leighton Buzzard, had been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to hold a person in servitude, one count of requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and one count of assault.
When police raided the Connors family’s site in September 2011 they found victims living in squalid conditions, suffering from malnutrition and even one man who had scurvy.
Police believe that over 100 people could have passed through the site over the years, and that there is no way of knowing much money the Connors made from forcing people to work for them.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Sharn Basra said: “The victims in this case were targeted by Tommy Senior and Patrick Connors, as well as James-John and Josie Connors, as they were vulnerable, had dependencies on drink or drugs, were homeless and basically had nowhere else to turn. These were individuals who were not missed and became conditioned to the control of these Connors family members who exploited them to make huge sums of money.
“I hope that the victims can now begin moving on with their lives and that these sentences send a clear message that behaviour of this nature is completely unacceptable and that we will rigorously investigate and bring to justice anyone who behaves in such a manner.”
Connors senior was given an eight-year prison sentence, whilst his son was sent down for five years.
Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “The offences were financially motivated, allowing these Connors family members to live in relative luxury while many of their victims were provided with the most basic and cramped living standards possible. The prosecution team have restrained in the region of £1 million from these members of the Connors family and identified a further £2 million of assets and the court will now consider questions of compensation and confiscation arising from these convictions.
“This case highlights the fact that both the police and the CPS are committed to securing justice even in the most difficult circumstances and for the most vulnerable members of our society.
Liam Vernon, Head of the UK Human Trafficking Centre at the Serious Organised Crime Agency, said: “This is a stark example of an appalling type of exploitation and slave-like conditions that can be seen in the UK. Last year there were 529 adults and children referred to the Centre. They were being controlled and used for their labour and servitude in a whole range of different ways, all for the financial gain of the traffickers.
“The victims in this case were clearly deeply affected by their experience, and it is to their credit that they had the courage to work with the authorities.
“Our officers are proud to have played their part in the rescue of these victims, bringing to justice the offenders, and preventing others from falling prey to them. We will continue to work with our partners to support victims of all forms of trafficking and protect vulnerable members of our society.”