Thu, 28 Apr 2016
Acting on behalf of the lead defendant Patrick Joseph Connors in the “R v Connors and others” case, a case forming part of Gwent police force’s Operation Imperial to investigate allegations of modern day slavery, are No5 Chambers leading crime barrister James Doyle and Ramya Nagesh as junior counsel.
Patrick Joseph Connors, 59, Patrick Dean Connors, 39, William Connors, 36, and Lee Carbis, 34, have all this week denied one count of requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour, along with additional counts alleging kidnap, conspiracy to kidnap and assault causing actual bodily harm.
The court heard how the accused kept Michael Hughes, now 46, and another man, referred to as Mr K, 41, in "appalling conditions" in south Wales over two decades between them. The prosecution allege that the two men were kept for years as captive employees forced to do heavy labour including laying driveways, tarmacking, and doing building repairs. If the men refused to do the work required of them they were beaten and forced to work even when ill or injured.
It is said by the prosecution that “For years they were paid in alcohol or tobacco or for small sums like £10 a day” “in conditions which did not conform to any normal employer/employee relationship.”
The prosecution also allege that on several occasions the two complainants tried to escape but were kidnapped and brought back to the traveller’s camp where they lived in sheds or garages with no running water or heating, forced to sleep on concrete floors.
During this period Mr Hughes spent a few days in prison after being arrested for driving one of the Connors’ trucks and taken to Scotland where he was wanted for outstanding fines. Mr Hughes also had a short relationship with a woman but he told police officers that when she became pregnant Connors told her mother he was a drug user and said the pregnancy should end.
All four defendants in the trial deny one count of requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour.
Connors senior has also pleaded not guilty to eight counts of causing actual bodily harm, four of kidnap and one of conspiracy to kidnap. The dates for those alleged offences range between 1990 and 2012.
Elder son Patrick Dean Connors denies kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap.
William Connors has pleaded not guilty to causing actual bodily harm on a man between 2009 and 2013.
Connors senior's son-in-law Carbis also denies one count of kidnap between 2001 and 2002.
The case is set to continue for the next six weeks with the accused expected to give evidence from next week.
The case has received national media coverage. For some examples, see the following links:
The BBC - Man 'paid £10 a day for heavy labour for 26 years'
The Metro - Family accused of ‘forcing slave to live in rotten shed’
The Daily Mail - Traveller gang 'kidnapped two vulnerable men to keep them as slaves for up to 26 years and carry out hard labour in atrocious conditions for just £10 a day'
The Sun - Family of travellers 'kidnapped two homeless men and kept them as slaves for 26 YEARS'