Irish Travellers jailed for 13 years in the UK for forcing vulnerable men to work as 'slaves'
Tommy Connors Senior and son Patrick jailed at Luton Crown Court - VIDEO
An Irish Traveller father and son who forced vulnerable men to be their slaves were sentenced to 13 years in prison on Wednesday.
Tommy Connors Sr, 53, was jailed for eight years and his son Patrick, 21, for five years at the sentencing hearing at Luton Crown Court.
The pair were convicted last July of servitude, compulsory labor and assault charges after a trial at the court.
The court in Bristol heard how the Connors family forced up to 37 men into a life of slavery at their halting site near Leighton Buzzard Bedfordshire, England, reports MailOnline.
During a separate trial a jury was discharged after failing to reach verdicts on other charges against James Connors, 25, and Tommy Jr, 27. The Crown Prosecution Service said it would not be pursuing a retrial.
Passing sentence, Judge Michael Kay said Tommy Connors Sr had targeted men who were "homeless or addicted and isolated" whom he could exploit.
Connors recruited destitute men at soup kitchens and off the street with the promise of paid work, food and lodgings.
"It was a monstrous and callous deceit" the judge said.
During last year's trial, the jury heard that workers were held on the Green Acres site at Little Billington, near Leighton Buzzard.
Speaking after today's sentencing, Detective Inspector Sharn Basra from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, 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.
“When we entered the Greenacres site in September 2011 we found victims who had been with members of the Connors family for more than 15 years and some who had been with them for only a few hours.
“The victims were afraid, living in squalid conditions, had no money or belongings, some suffered from malnutrition while others had old fracture wounds that hadn't healed properly and one man even had scurvy.
“In stark contrast, Tommy Senior, Patrick, James-John and Josie Connors were living in almost palatial residencies, had access to whatever they needed or wanted and were free to do as they pleased.
“Having spoken to the victims, we believe that more than 100 people could have passed through the site over the years and there is no telling how much money Tommy Senior, Patrick, James-John and Josie made from forcing people to work for them.
“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.”
James John Connors, 34, and Josie Connors, 31, were jailed for 11 years and four years respectively at the trial last year.
Here’s ITV’s report from September 2011 when the men being forced to work as slaves were freed:
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