Four in court on slavery charges

Three brothers and their brother-in-law have appeared in court charged with enslaving four men found at a travellers' site.

James (Jimmy) Connors, 23, Tommy Connors, 27, and Patrick Connors, 19, appeared at Luton Magistrates' Court along with brother-in-law James (Big Jim) Connors, 33.



The charges relate to four alleged victims who were removed from the Greenacres travellers' site in Bedfordshire after a police raid on Sunday.



The charges were brought under section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, which came into force last year.



Prosecutor Ben Gumpert made an application to District Judge Leigh Smith that the four victims should not be named in press reports.









Mr Gumpert said James Connors (Big Jim) faces six charges of conspiracy in relation to three victims, all of which were allegedly committed between April last year and August this year.



The other three men each face four charges of conspiracy, two for each in relation to two victims, which are said to have happened between June last year and April this year.



The court heard that many of the alleged victims were required to undertake work such as ground work, block paving, resurfacing and retiling for little or no pay.



They are currently in varying conditions both mentally and physically.



Wives and girlfriends of the quartet burst into tears as the men were brought into the dock, and many continued to sob quietly during the hearing.



The charges followed an investigation by the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit and relate to alleged offences against the men at the Greenacres travellers' site in Bedfordshire.



The defendants all live at the site, in Great Billington, Leighton Buzzard.



A heavily pregnant woman who was arrested alongside the men on Sunday morning was released on bail and will be questioned further after the birth of her child, police said.



The four men who, apart from Jimmy Connors are all of a heavy build, spoke in court only to confirm their names, ages and address and to tell the court they understood the charges.



Wearing sweatshirts of varying blue colours, the men frequently looked at their family members and each other as the hearing went on.



They were arrested during an early-morning raid on the caravan site by more than 200 police officers.



The raid followed a long-running investigation by the force which suggested 24 men were being held against their will in squalid conditions at the site, and forced to work for no pay.



The men were taken from the site to a medical centre. Police said they were mostly from English and eastern European backgrounds.



A Bedfordshire police spokesman said nine people had left the medical centre and had "chosen not to support the police investigation".

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks