Connors traveller family trial: 'Made to strip and beaten as slave'
A 54-YEAR-OLD man has said he was beaten and given hose pipe showers in public while living and working with a traveller family accused of slavery.
Alexander Gourlay was plucked from a YMCA in Birmingham by the Connors family, from Staverton. He travelled around the country with them living in caravans and sheds and often had only a bucket to wash and go to the toilet in.
He was forced to live in caravans or sheds with other men, foraging in supermarket bins for food, during his alleged 18 years of servitude, a court heard.
Mr Gourley was giving evidence in the trial of William Connors, 52, his wife Mary, 48, their sons John, 29, and James, 20, and their son-in-law Miles Connors, 23, all charged with conspiracy to hold another person in servitude and conspiracy to require a person to carry out forced or compulsory labour.
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He said William, known as Billy to the workers, made him strip off outdoors and hosed him down with cold water until he was "freezing to death".
He was paid just £10 a day for doing paving work for the family, Bristol Crown Court heard. If he complained he was beaten, he said.
"He hit me with his hands and sometimes his fists, he slapped me around the face and I would get kicked in the knees," he said.
He saw another worker, Timmy, who he said had the mental age of a 12-year-old, beaten with the handle of a broom. Another worker, Craig, was beaten with a spade, he said, after arguing with James Connors, known as Jimmy.
"I watched Jimmy pick up a spade and hit him around the head with it," Mr Gourlay said. "He hit him quite a few times and told him to go to the trailer and think about it and cool himself down."
The court heard for almost two decades he lived in a shed in Bristol "not big enough to swing a cat in". It had no heating, lighting or running water and he slept with just a sheet to cover him.
He often also stayed at a caravan site in Cheltenham, while the Connors lived in a nearby bungalow.
The trial continues.