Connors family slavery trial: Workers cut off from outside world
ILLEGAL workers allegedly trapped in the grip of slavery were ordered by their captors not to contact the outside world, or suffer the consequences, a jury was told.
It is alleged homeless men, many with drink and drug addictions, were plucked from the streets to join the Connors family's private workforce.
They were put to work at traveller sites around the country or on building projects, for little or no pay.
Witness testimonies revealed broom handles, rakes and even a manhole cover were used to keep workers in line. Prosecuting QC, Christopher Quinlan, said many lived in fear of being rounded up and punished if they decided to flee.
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"Workers were told they must not speak to others," he said. "They were allowed to go to the local shop, but told to come straight back. They knew what the consequences would be if they did not. It was dominance of one set of people over another, masters over serfs."
Beatings were commonplace if family orders were refused, he said. Video footage showed workers being allegedly beaten by the head of the family, William Connors. In his police statement, he said he was just "messing about".
All five defendants from the Staverton family - William, 52, James, 20, John, 29, Miles, 23, and Brida, 48 deny conspiracy to hold a person in servitude and conspiracy to require a person to carry out forced or compulsory labour between April 4 2010 and March 23 2011.
The trial continues.