‘Horrible bully’ jailed for placing man into servitude
‘Religious man’ also ordered to pay £10k compensation to victim
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.”
‘APPALLING TREATMENT’: John Rooney got three years