Traveller family kept slaves to fund their own lavish lifestyles

Traveller family kept slaves fund lavish lifestyles
Convicted gang members (top row, L-R): Bridget Rooney, 55, Gerald Rooney, 46, John Rooney, 53, John Rooney, 31, Lawrence Rooney, 47, Martin Rooney, 35; (bottom row, L-R): Martin Rooney Sr, 57, Martin Rooney, 23, Patrick Rooney, 54, Patrick Rooney, 31, and Peter Doran, 36. Photograph: Lincolnshire Police

Rooney family forced at least 18 victims aged 18 to 63 into slavery for as long as 26 years

Eleven members of a Traveller family in Lincolnshire have been convicted at Nottingham Crown Court of a series of modern slavery offences.

They forced at least 18 victims aged 18 to 63 – including homeless people and some with learning disabilities – to work for little or no pay and live in squalid conditions for up to 26 years. The victims were freed by police after raids on sites in Drinsey Nook and Washingborough, in Lincolnshire in 2014.

The convictions follow a lengthy investigation by Lincolnshire Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

One of the victims was found to have been working for the family for 26 years.

The Rooneys enticed their victims with offers of work and accommodation. Once they accepted the jobs they were assigned to run-down caravans without heating, water or toilets, said the Crown Prosecution Service.

Traveller family kept slaves fund lavish lifestyles
The interior of a caravan in which some of the gang’s workers were forced to live. Photograph- Lincolnshire police:PA

The family members were convicted in four trials but reporting was restricted until last week. The eleven gang members used the money they made from their workers to pay for holidays to Barbados, cosmetic surgery and coaching by Manchester United.

Janine Smith of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “These members of the Rooney family lived lives of luxury at the expense of their victims, condemning them to live in fear, misery and squalor. For them, exploitation, violence and extortion were a way of life. The defendants have caused serious harm to the people they exploited, some of whom have now passed away.”

The case was divided into separate trials, each dealing with different areas of offending. The first trial, which lasted four months at Nottingham crown court, led to guilty verdicts for the forced labour and exploitation of the victims at a site in Drinsey Nook.

The second trial, for similar offences in Washingborough, led to guilty pleas on charges of forced and compulsory labour.

There are currently more than 300 active policing operations targeting modern slavery in the UK.

The convicted offenders were:

• John Rooney, 31, of Drinsey Nook, Saxilby, Lincolnshire – conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour, conspiracy to defraud, fraud by false representation and two counts of theft.

• Patrick Rooney, 31, of Drinsey Nook – conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour, fraud by abuse of position, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and two counts of theft.

• Bridget Rooney, 55, of Drinsey Nook – conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

• Martin Rooney, 35, of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire – conspiracy to defraud, two counts of converting criminal property.

• Martin Rooney, 57, of Drinsey Nook – conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and unlawful wounding.

• Martin Rooney, 23, of Drinsey Nook – conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

• Patrick Rooney, 54, of Beaconsfield – converting criminal property.

• John Rooney, 53, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire – two counts of conspiring to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

• Peter Doran, 36, of Lincoln – conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

• Gerard Rooney, 46, of Lincoln – conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

• Lawrence Rooney, 47, currently in prison – conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Sentencing will begin on 7 September.


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