Jury out again in traveller family servitude trial
Friday 06 July 2012
A jury has retired for a fifth day of deliberations to consider verdicts in the trial of a traveller family accused of forcing destitute men into servitude.
Seven members of the Connors family deny they controlled, exploited, verbally abused and beat the men for financial gain at a caravan site near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire.
During the trial, the jury at Luton Crown Court heard the complainants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were forced to work on the Connors' block paving business.
They were allegedly given almost 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.
Living in caravans and sheds deemed unfit for human habitation, prosecutors said the men spent Sundays doing further work door-to-door selling.
Many of them were alcoholics, drug addicts or had previously been in trouble with the law, and were picked up off the streets, at soup kitchens or in homeless centres.
One told police he was warned he would be "murdered" if he tried to leave.
Another said that living at the caravan site was like being in a "concentration camp".
Most of the workers sooner or later managed to escape but remained fearful of being "recaptured", jurors heard.
The alleged crimes came to light last year after police raided the Greenacres caravan site on September 11.
The Connors are charged with offences related to servitude and forced labour under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
These crimes were allegedly carried out first by Tommy Snr, 52, but gradually over the past 15 years also by his children Johnny, 28, James, 24, Josie, 31, Tommy Jnr, 27, and Patrick, 20, and son-in-law James John, 34.
Tommy Snr, James John and Patrick are also charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and James John, known as Big Jim, is also charged with battery.
This afternoon the jury was sent home for the weekend and will resume its deliberations at 10.30am on Monday.
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence's own witness contradicts athlete's version of events
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
Almost 40m gallons of drinking water discarded – because a man urinated in it
Peaches Geldof funeral: Private ceremony to be held at same place as her mother Paula Yates on Easter Monday
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 3 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark