Travellers Took Homeless Man Off Street, Forced Him Into Hard Labour As A 'Slave', Court Hears

A destitute man was plucked from the streets by a traveller family, forced to work as a "slave" and "mentally tortured", a court heard today.

The man was living in a hotel early last year when he was stopped by two travellers in Wembley, north-west London and offered an £80-a-day job, he said.

He agreed as it sounded like "good money" but was taken to a traveller site, coerced into performing hard labour and never paid a penny, he claimed.

Prosecutors say he was among dozens of homeless people, alcoholics and drug addicts controlled, exploited, verbally abused and beaten by seven members of the Connors family for financial gain.

Luton Crown Court in Bedfordshire, where the family is on trial for offences related to servitude and forced labour, heard of the ordeal allegedly suffered by one of their alleged victims.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, managed to escape last summer after six months of working for the Connors family, he said.

He told police they had snatched his benefit money from him and forced him to perform hard manual labour for up to 16 hours a day unpaid.

"It was not an easy job and was making my back hurt every day," he told officers in his police interview which was played to the court.

"I didn't like it but they said I couldn't leave and said if I tried to leave ... I would get murdered."

He described being "kicked in the nuts", punched in the eye for not finding any work one day and being given another black eye for not cleaning the bathroom.

"I was basically being mentally tortured," he said.

During the time he spent with the family he lived on their site in a small caravan in Little Billington near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, jurors heard.

He was made to wash in cold water, fed mainly eggs and sandwiches and sometimes nothing at all, and lived in fear, he said.

He did not flee sooner because "I was scared I was going to get beat up," he added.

"They treated me like a slave," he said.

"I felt worse than a slave."

The Connors's alleged crimes were initially carried out by Tommy Snr, 52, but gradually over the past 15 years also by his children Johnny, 28, James, 24, Josie, 30, Tommy Jnr, 26, and Patrick, 20, and son-in-law James John, 34, the court has heard.

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.