‘Hor­ri­ble bully’ jailed for plac­ing man into servi­tude

‘Re­li­gious man’ also or­dered to pay £10k com­pen­sa­tion to vic­tim

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A MAN has been jailed for three years and or­dered to pay £10,000 after be­ing con­victed of mod­ern day slav­ery charges.

John Rooney, 35, of Holly Bush Lane, Iver, was told by a judge on Fri­day he ‘had mur­dered another man’s soul’ by forc­ing a for­mer sol­dier to live in a bro­ken tent for two years and earn £1.25 per hour work­ing for him.

Rooney wa­sunan­i­mously found guilty by a jury on Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 16 of servi­tude and on Fri­day he ap­peared via video link from Wood­hill Prison and was sentenced by Judge Fran­cis Sheri­dan, at Ayles­bury Crown Court, to three years in prison and or­dered to pay £10,000 in com­pen­sa­tion to vic­tim Maris Smilga, 46 – £9,086 of which was deemed to be the wages Rooney owed Smilga.

He was also dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for two years, for us­ing a ve­hi­cle for the pur­pose of crime.

Be­tween Jan­uary 1 and May 16 last year, Rooney held a 30-year-old man and Mr Smilga by co­er­cion to make them pro­vide work and ser­vices for him and his fam­ily.

The of­fence took place in Holly Bush Lane, in Iver, and the vic­tims in­di­cated that they had been forced to work for Rooney for over a year.

Mr Smilga, from Latvia, who had served in the RRus­sian army and then the Lat­vian army, came to Eng­land but lost his pass­port and pa­pers, hit­ting ‘rock bot­tom.’ Rooney said he would help Mr Smilga with his pass­port and pa­pers, but never did.

The court heard Mr Smilga worked very hard for Rooney ‘hour in hour out, day in day out’ for £30 a day.

After a day’s work, Mr Smilga, who had to live in ‘rot­ten con­di­tions’, then had to clean Mr Rooney’s car­a­van, as well as that of RRooney’s fa­ther-in-law, and do the wash­ing un­paid.

Judge Sheri­dan said: “[Maris’s] soul was mur­dered. He was des­per­ate and had nowhere to go and noth­ing to spend. YYou treated him ap­pallingly. YYou were a hor­ri­ble bully who threat­ened him and abused him.

“He was ter­ri­fied to leave be­cause of the fear in­stilled in him that you or other trav­ellers from the Slough area would come and get him back.”

Rooney, who is mar­ried with four chil­dren and a fifth on the way, was de­scribed as a re­li­gious man.

Judge Sheri­dan added: “While you were in church pray­ing on your knees on a Sun­day, Maris Smilga was slog­ging his guts out for you in your yard. You’re not only a hyp­ocrite, but a bully as well.”

R

‘APPALLING TREAT­MENT’: John Rooney got three years

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