07/05/2013 14:37 BST | Updated 07/05/2013 14:38 BST

Forced Labour Father, Tommy Connors Senior, And Son Jailed

A father and son who forced destitute men into servitude have been jailed.

Tommy Connors Senior, 53, was jailed for eight years and his son Patrick, 21, for five years at Luton Crown Court, Bedfordshire Police said.

forced labour

Tommy Connors Senior and his son, Patrick, were convicted last July

The pair, from the Greenacres site in Little Billington, Leighton Buzzard, had been convicted last July of servitude, compulsory labour and assault charges after a trial at the court.

They were sentenced on Tuesday after a separate trial at the same court failed to reach verdicts on other charges against both men and two more of Connors Senior's sons James Connors, 25, and Tommy Junior Connors, 27.

A jury at Luton Crown Court was discharged after failing to reach verdicts on any of the charges against the four men, Bedfordshire Police said.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it would not be pursuing a retrial, the force said in a press release.

It comes after the daughter of Connors Senior and her husband were jailed over slavery charges last year.

Josie Connors, 31 and James John Connors, 34, were sentenced to four years and 11 years respectively at Luton Crown Court following a 13-week trial last July.

The couple, also from the Greenacres site, were found guilty of holding a person in servitude and requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour. Connors was also convicted of a charge of assault.

Speaking after Tuesday'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."

The alleged crimes came to light in 2011 after police raided the Greenacres caravan site on 11 September and the Connors were charged with offences related to servitude and forced labour under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

Connors Senior was convicted of one servitude charge and one forced labour charge, as well as one of ABH following the trial last year.

Patrick Connors was convicted of conspiring to hold a person in servitude, as well as forced labour and ABH charges at the same trial.

The trial was told the complainants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were forced to work in the Connors' block paving business.

The men were given next to 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, it was said.

Commenting after the sentencing today, Baljit Ubhey OBE, chief Crown prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: "Today's sentences conclude a lengthy and detailed investigation by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit (MCU). The CPS Thames and Chiltern's Complex Casework Unit (CCU) has worked closely with them since this investigation was launched.

"Tommy Senior, Patrick, James John and Josie Connors have been found guilty of offences involving the serious mistreatment of vulnerable people who had little option but to continue to work for them, because they were trapped by their personal circumstances.

"These four Connors used threats of violence and actual violence to prevent the victims leaving them or from alerting the authorities to their treatment.

"They forced them to work very long hours in their block paving business or doing their domestic chores when they were not working. They failed to pay them for their work and took advantage of their vulnerability and inability to protest in doing so.

"The offences were financially motivated, allowing these Connors family members to live in relative luxury while many of their victims were provided with the most basic and cramped living standards possible.

"The prosecution team have restrained in the region of £1 million from these members of the Connors family and identified a further £2 million of assets and the court will now consider questions of compensation and confiscation arising from these convictions."