Exploited worker in Connors forced labour empire died after being 'fly-tipped' by family
CHRISTOPHER Nicholls was "fly-tipped" like a piece of rubbish by the Connors family when they no longer considered him fit to work in their forced labour empire.
An open verdict was delivered at yesterday's inquest into his death.
His daughter was the lone family representative in court, five years after his decomposed body was discovered in a collapsed Staverton shed.
Christopher lost touch with his family after he split with his wife and became addicted to drugs and alcohol.
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The 41-year-old father of two was taken in by Billy Connors in 2000. He began working as a salesman, trying to drum up business laying driveways. The police investigation into the forced labour revealed £109,000 had been recouped from benefits taken from the workers.
The last known sighting of Christopher was in March 2005, but benefits were claimed on his behalf a year after his death. Five months earlier, he had been struck by a van in the early hours after chasing after his dog, near the Willowdean site where he lived, suffering a fractured skull and six broken ribs. After returning to the Connors, his impaired speech, incontinence and difficulty to walk made him useless.
Lead investigator DCI David Selwood said: "We are of the opinion that in March 2005, Christopher was 'fly-tipped' by William (Billy) and Breda Connors when still feeling the effects of his accident. He had no access to benefits or any way of providing for himself."
However, he said: "There is no reason to link the Connors family directly to the death of Christopher Nicholls."
The family had been exploiting him for years, but he was only known to police when he was arrested in January 2005.
Christopher, Edward McGann and another man had offered to re-lay an elderly woman's patio, but when she refused they dug it up anyway. Mr McGann later pleaded guilty to the charge of criminal damage and was jailed for two months.
Police say he saw it as a chance to escape the family. The court heard Mr McGann told police he had witnessed Billy Connors assaulting Christopher with a rake, causing puncture wounds to his limbs.
Billy Connors, 51, sons James, 29, and John, 20, and son-in-law Miles are serving a total of 18 years for forced labour.