Travellers found guilty in homeless slavery trial
Four of the seven members of an Irish Travelling family accused of keeping homeless men as slaves have been found guilty.
Luton Crown Court heard through the trial, which lasted 13 weeks, how the Traveller family beat and exploited the men, shaving their heads and forcing them to work.
The jury took nine days to come to a verdict and was directed by the judge on Tuesday to give a majority decision.
They reached guilty verdicts for Tommy Connors (senior), 52, James John Connors, 34, Josie Connors, 30, and Patrick Connors, 20.
Tommy was convicted of one count of keeping a man in servitude, one of forced labour and one of actual bodily harm. The jury could not agree on eight other charges.
James John and Josie Connors were convicted of two charges each of holding a person in servitude and two of requiring him to perform forced or compulsory labour.
James John was also convicted of actual bodily harm. No verdict on battery was given and he was found not guilty of a servitude and false labour charge.
Patrick was convicted of conspiring to hold a person in servitude, one of making a person perform forced labour and one actual bodily harm. He was found not guilty of one charge of conspiracy and no verdicts were reached on seven other charges.
Tommy Connors (Junior), 26, faced five servitude charges and five of requiring a person to perform forced labour. He was found not guilty on a charge of conspiracy to hold. No verdicts were brought in on the other charges.
James Connors, 24, was charged with five offences of conspiring to hold a person in servitude and five offences of conspiring to require a person to perform forced labour. He was cleared of one charge of conspiring to hold in servitude and no verdicts were returned on the other charges.
Johnny Connors, 28, was found not guilty of conspiracy to hold and no verdict was entered on a charge of compulsory labour.
Frances Oldham QC, prosecuting at the start of the trial, said: ‘Typically recruitment would take place at centres for the homeless, soup kitchens or simply on the street.
‘Subsequently these individuals were held at a succession of travellers’ sites culminating in the Greenacres site and were forced to work for the Connors family without payment.’
A Bedfordshire Police raid on the Greenacres Travellers’ Site in Leighton Buzzard on 11 September last year resulted in 24 men being freed and taken into safety.
The court heard that one man was recruited in the mid-1990s and had received £80 in cash in the 15 years he had been working with the Connors family.
The four defendants are expected to be sentenced today and a decision will be made about a number of other charges the jury failed to make a decision on.