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Police at the Greenacres caravan site in Bedfordshire Photo by: Belfast Telegraph

Irish travellers convicted on slavery charges by English court - VIDEO

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Police at the Greenacres caravan site in Bedfordshire Photo by: Belfast Telegraph

Four Irish travellers from the one family are awaiting sentence in England after they were found guilty of keeping homeless men in slavery.

Luton’s Crown Court found the three men and one woman guilty on multiple charges of keeping homeless men in servitude, making them do forced labour, and other abuses.

The jury failed to reach agreement on another 30 charges against the members of the Connors family and another trial may follow.

The Irish Times reports that Tommy Connors Snr was found guilty of one count of servitude, one of forced labour, and one of causing actual bodily harm.

His son Patrick, daughter Josie, and her husband James John Connors were also convicted of holding a person in servitude and other offences.

England’s Crown Prosecution Service may now seek to again prosecute the charges on which the jury could not agree.

One of the homeless men, who cannot be named, told the court how he was recruited by James John Connors at a petrol station when he was ‘depressed and contemplating suicide’.

The man told the court that he could have left the Connors’ caravan site near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire but said he was scared of James John Connors.

He said in evidence: “Seven years of abuse, starvation and torture. There was no respect. They treated me like a slave, and that’s putting it mildly.”

The court also heard that one worker was beaten after he had broken a Waterford Crystal vase worth $4,000 while he cleaned James John’s caravan.

One victim, held in servitude by Tommy Connors Snr and his son, Patrick, told the court: “You couldn’t fight them all. They would say, ‘I’ll find you, no matter where you are, we’ll get you’.”

The victims told how they were barred from using toilets and showers at the caravan park and were instead taken irregularly to a local leisure centre for a shower.

In evidence, James John Connors said: “The workers’ living conditions were down to themselves, they had lived in cardboard boxes when on the streets.”

A police inquiry was only launched in March 2011 after the introduction of legislation a year earlier which made servitude a crime under British law.

Conspiracy to hold someone in servitude can bring a jail sentence of up to 14 years.

Here’s ITV’s report from September 2011 when the men were freed:

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