Six plead not guilty to slavery charges

15/02/2012

Four brothers, their sister and her husband all stood together in the dock of Luton Crown Court on Monday, 13 February 2012 to plead not guilty to slavery offences.

The six, who are all members of the travelling community, are said to have kept a number of vulnerable men as slaves on a caravan site in Bedfordshire and forced them to carry out unpaid labour.

They were arrested following a police operation last September at the Green Acres Caravan Site near Leighton Buzzard.

The raid on the site came after police had received reports that men were being held against their will on the site by members of the family.

The six, brothers Jimmy Connors, 23, Tommy Connors, 26, Patrick Connors, 20, and Johnny Connors, 27, together with their sister Josie, 30, and her husband James Connors, 34, appeared at Luton Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing.

Missing in the dock was the head of the family and father to the siblings, Thomas Connors, 52.

Judge Michael Kay hearing the case was told that he had been taken by ambulance to hospital earlier in the morning.

The clerk to the court read out 20 charges to which they all pleaded not guilty.

Tommy Connors, Jimmy Connors and Patrick Connors pleaded not guilty to six charges of conspiring to hold a person in servitude and six charges of conspiring to require a person to perform forced or compulsory behaviour.

Patrick Connors also denied a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Their brother-in-law, James Connors denies three servitude charges, battery and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

His wifem, Josie Connors denies two servitude offences and one forced labour charge.

Johnny Connors, the only member of the family to live on a travellers site in St Albans, Herts, pleaded not guilty to one offence of conspiring to hold a person in servitude and one offence of conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory behaviour.

The court was told that the absent Thomas Connors will be pleading not guilty to the charges he faces at a later date.

The trial of all seven is fixed for later this year.

Please note - all court copies are provided by South Beds News Agency, who retain the copyright for all articles published.