Connors traveller family trial: 'Slave' camps rife with alcohol and fights
FIGHTS over alcohol would often break out among illegal workers on traveller sites run by the Gloucestershire family at the centre of an alleged slavery ring, a court heard.
Former "slave" James Martin told Bristol Crown Court how his boss Johnny Connors, of Bamfurlong Lane, struggled to control alcoholic workers under his command.
Many of the homeless men put to work by the Connors family on driveways around the country were caught in the grip of alcohol addiction, he said.
Mr Martin said one man, known as Leo, would run around sites at night in his underwear before being imprisoned in the back of a Ford Transit van for four days.
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"Leo disappeared for a few days from the site where we were staying in Leicester," he said.
"When he was brought back by Johnny, he was skinny as a rake and had a big bushy beard. He told us he had been on a bender in the Polish community. He was getting uncontrollable because of the alcohol and began hallucinating.
"He would run around the site screaming the Polish mafia was after him or that he was seeing spiders.
"Johnny (Connors) was beside himself and didn't know what to do so locked him in the back of the van.
"It was all we could do to keep him quiet, it was how we controlled his alcohol dependency.
"We would feed him the odd can of Strongbow to keep him going. I had to clean the van out when he came out. It was covered in excrement and urine.
"He was no harm to anyone else, but he was a harm to himself.
"Leo said he could hear voices in his head. He needed alcohol counselling, but he was never taken to a doctor."
Mr Martin told how some workers would drink a three-litre bottle of strong Frosty Jack cider in their basic caravans most nights, leaving some for when they woke up to drink before breakfast.
The workers were taken from their base at the Beggar's Roost caravan site in Cheltenham as far as Scotland for work.
In his interview with police, Mr Martin said some of the workers, who were paid paltry sums for hard labour, would fight for supremacy among their fellow labourers.
The trial continues.