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Jail terms handed down to forced labour Connors family

By citizengibbon  |  Posted: December 19, 2012

  • William 'Billy' Connors

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The Connors family have been sentenced to more than 18 years behind bars today.

William Connors, 51, will serve six-and-a-half years, his wife Mary, known as Breda, 48, will serve two years and three months, son John, 29, was given four years, son-in-law Miles three years and their other son James, 20, three years in a young offenders facility.

All five were found guilty last week of forcing men to work for them.

The family tricked around 37 homeless men into living with them on the promise of work, money and accommodation. They then made them carry out hard labour for little or no pay.

The men, many of whom were alcoholics or had mental health issues, were housed in crammed, squalid caravans at the Beggars Roost traveller site at Staverton. During the trial, it emerged they were given little food and were subjected to brutal beatings.

The charges relate to the period between April 5 2010 and March 23 2011, when the Connors were using a number of victims to perform a range of building and manual labour jobs across the country.

A year long investigation including a five month surveillance operation by Gloucestershire Constabulary culminated in March 2011 when officers carried out warrants at sites in Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire and 19 vulnerable people were rescued.

On arrival in court to hear their fate, William Connors, the head of the family of Irish Travellers, blew kisses to family members in the public gallery.

Breda was visibly upset and in tears as she entered court.

As the sentences were dished out, the wives of the three younger men sat in the public gallery clawed at the glass as crying broke out.

Their husbands gestured towards them before they were taken down to begin their sentences.

The vulnerable men picked up by police in March 2011 were described as desperate by His Honour Judge Michael Longman.

He said the violence they received by the Connors helped define the barriers between worker and boss.

"The evidence did not suggest that violence was regularly used against workers, and rarely during the indictment period," he said.

"I am, however, satisfied that such violence as there was not only helped to define and emphasise the unequal relationship between bosses and workers, but also to serve to ensure the workers knew there was a line not to be crossed.

"For some of the workers, their circumstances before they met the Connors were so desperate that by comparison they considered themselves to be better off than they had been.

"Having previously been unemployed, they appreciated the opportunity to work.

"But the indignity of unemployment was replaced by the degradation that accompanied their inferior status. The freedoms and independence that usually accompany employment were largely absent."

Each defendant had earlier in the trial been acquitted of conspiracy to hold a person in servitude.

Lead officer in the Operation Tundra, DCI David Sellwood said he hopes the sentences send out a clear message to others operating similar businesses.

"We are delighted with verdicts," he said.

"It now sends out this message that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated by Gloucestershire police, or any other constabulary.

"William Connors is a very greedy and arrogant man.

"This was a commercial enterprise this was all about making money and affording him a luxurious lifestyle.

"His means of earning a fortune were by exploiting vulnerable people - people at the bottom of society with no hope.

"He gave them false hope and then exploited them for years."

Each is expected to serve half their sentence, but will remain subject to supervision and licence.


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  • Mrpedigree  |  December 20 2012, 9:05PM

    Ladyhahaha i wouldnt of thought so lol

  • ladylalala  |  December 20 2012, 8:47PM

    they wont have any problems paying back all the money they got from benefit fraud then

  • Mrpedigree  |  December 20 2012, 2:46PM

    Ladylalala Although a set back I dont think this will make much of a difference to the Conners families over all wealth ,most who know of the family know of many properties worth millions collectively,these properties are ones they have owned since the 1980s -90s that were ether left to him by his mother or bought through a legitimate unrelated business that hes paid tax with,like i said before the properties the police seized was ones bought from 2003 onwards through the business that these victims worked for. The police are powerless by law to seize properties that where inherited or bought and paid for by the unrelated business by legal means .

    |   -6
  • ladylalala  |  December 20 2012, 9:04AM

    I hope that the family of Christopher Nicholls can take a little comfort from this. Happy Christmas to the connors who will be spending it inside..... you're gonna get ruined I reckon!

    |   6
  • Mrpedigree  |  December 19 2012, 8:17PM

    What difference is there from what the conners family has done to what the government want to do with making the unemployed work for their dole ? lol

    |   -25
  • chori  |  December 19 2012, 8:16PM

    merry christmas to the connors family, hope you all have a lovely time.

    |   11
  • Bellyflop  |  December 19 2012, 7:41PM

    What a scumbag family, I hope they like porridge. Lets hope they get a kicking inside.

    |   13
  • Mrpedigree  |  December 19 2012, 5:25PM

    MarkC11 ,when have i defended them ? Lets be fair there would be no case to answer if the government had not changed the law back in 2003 ,From what i understand pre 2003 this whole case would of not even gotten out the gate . By all accounts the conners have been paying tax through legit companies they owned since the 1990s ,how do you recon they have been able to buy each one of these properties for hundreds of thousands of pounds if they was not paying some sort of tax ? you can't pay cash for nothing now days without proving how/when or where you got the cash from . I know there are several business that are legit that the police have not bothered with because they are legal. IMO I think the moneys the police can confiscate with be post 2003 when the law came in, in the eyes of the law no crime is committed or law broken before that date so one can assume there with be no confiscation order before that date . Conners wont do much time ,hes already done 18+ month on remand so i recon he will be out in 2 years .

    |   -19
  • Peter_Parker  |  December 19 2012, 5:22PM

    ***** b'stards.

    |   16
  • bonzaharris1  |  December 19 2012, 4:52PM

    2ladybugs, very interesting that bit about the prisons, especially this bit:- "Their duty is to look after them with humanity and help them lead law-abiding and useful lives in custody and after release. In doing so, prisons provide public protection, rehabilitation and work to reduce re-offending" As they never have been, and never will be law abiding until the day they turn their toes up, perhaps they should in their case, lock them up and throw away the key. I would also knock on the head, the looking after them with humanity bit as well, and treat them, as they treated their victims.

    |   16