herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Slave travellers told to repay £2m or be sent to jail

A family of millionaire Travellers jailed for forcing vulnerable men to work for a pittance have been ordered to repay more than £2m (€2.58m).

A judge ruled the Gloucestershire-based Connors family benefited by more than £5m from their crimes and ordered them to pay £2,272,435.26 within six months or face prison.

The family lived the high life at the expense of enslaved homeless drug addicts and alcoholics kept in squalid conditions.

William Connors (54), his wife Mary (50), sons John (31) and James (22) and son-in-law Miles Connors (25) were jailed in December 2012 for conspiracy to require a person to perform forced labour.

luxury

The profits funded a luxury Caribbean cruise and holidays to Tenerife and Mexico.

They drove top-of-the-range cars including a Rolls-Royce and had built a property portfolio potentially now worth millions of pounds. The family bought two caravan parks in Gloucestershire for £545,000 more than a decade ago and had £576,514.20 in bank accounts seized by the police.

The Connors' enterprise came to an end when police raided three sites in England in March 2011 following a lengthy surveillance operation.

In December 2012 William Connors was jailed for six-and-a-half years and Mary Connors, also known as Brida, received a sentence of two years and three months.

John Connors got four years and his brother James got three years' detention in a young offender institution. Miles Connors received a three-year prison sentence.

Apart from William Connors, who remains in prison, the other members of the family have been released.

Yesterday at Bristol Crown Court following a five-day Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, Judge Michael Longman gave the family six months to repay the money or face prison.

William Connors was told to pay back £1,674,912.38 or face six years' jail and his wife has to pay £139,175.24 or face 20 months. John and James owe the courts £305,480.83 and £135,000 and if they fail to pay face prison sentences of 38 months and nine months respectively.

Miles Connors was told to pay £17,866.81 or face nine months' jail.

Det Supt Dave Sellwood said he was pleased the victims of the Connors - some of whom had worked for them for nearly 20 years - would receive compensation.

"The victims deserve to be compensated , so I am pleased we can help them," he said.

hnews@herald.ie

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