Nine mem­bers of trav­el­ling fam­ily con­victed in mod­ern slav­ery st­ing

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

TWO mem­bers of a trav­eller fam­ily who ran one of the big­gest slav­ery rings in the coun­try have been jailed for ex­ploit­ing vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

Martin Rooney, 35, and Pa­trick Rooney, 54, both of Bea­cons­field, were con­victed along­side nine other fam­ily mem­bers in what has been dubbed one of the largest po­lice op­er­a­tions into mod­ern slav­ery and fraud in the coun­try.

The 11-strong Rooney fam­ily tar­geted ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble home­less men, keep­ing them cap­tive in ap­palling con­di­tions, forc­ing them to live in sta­bles next to dog ken­nels and feed­ing them left­overs.

Many of the vic­tims were al­co­holics or drug ad­dicts and sev­eral had learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties and men­tal health is­sues and were es­tranged from their fam­i­lies, with one man kept cap­tive for decades.

In to­tal, 18 men had been traf­ficked.

They used the prof­its to fund lux­u­ri­ous hol­i­days to Bar­ba­dos, Aus­tralia, Egypt and Mex­ico, the pur­chase of high per­for­mance BMWs, spa days and even cos­metic surgery.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion also un­cov­ered four prop­er­ties that had been ob­tained from vul­ner­a­ble and of­ten el­derly peo­ple, who were en­cour­aged to sign the prop­er­ties over for prices well be­low the mar­ket value.

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Chris Davison, head of crime for Lin­colnshire Po­lice, said: “The sever­ity of th­ese crimes is un­der­lined by the sen­tences im­posed by the judge.

“The vic­tims will never get the years back that were taken away from them but I hope this pro­vides them with some com­fort that jus­tice has been served and demon­strates that we will do ev­ery­thing in our power to try and stop oth­ers suf­fer­ing in the ways that they did.

“We will not rest on this re­sult as there are po­ten­tially other vic­tims of mod­ern slav­ery in our county.

“We are ex­plor­ing five ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions and we will con­tinue to put any vic­tims at the very heart of our in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“Mod­ern slav­ery isn’t just forced labour like we have seen in Op­er­a­tion Pot­tery – it can take many forms in­clud­ing sex­ual ex­ploita­tion, do­mes­tic servi­tude, fraud­u­lent ac­tiv­ity or crim­i­nal ex­ploita­tion.

“This doesn’t al­ways hap­pen to our most vul­ner­a­ble ei­ther – any man, woman or child could be traf­ficked or re­cruited in the ac­tiv­ity, of­ten with prom­ise of money or other ben­e­fit. What­ever form it takes, mod­ern slav­ery is a truly ap­palling and dev­as­tat­ing crime.

“We are work­ing hard to raise aware­ness of mod­ern slav­ery, which will help us safe­guard more vic­tims.

“Please fol­low our ad­vice for spot­ting mod­ern slav­ery and con­tact us im­me­di­ately if you be­lieve some­one is at risk.”

Re­port­ing re­stric­tions pre­vented the pub­li­ca­tion of HMRC’s in­volve­ment in this case un­til the out­stand­ing charges were set­tled.

Of­fi­cers from HMRC sup­ported Lin­colnshire Po­lice Force from the out­set of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, iden­ti­fy­ing in­come tax, VAT and tax credit of­fences and analysing the full ex­tent of the fam­ily’s il­le­gal trad­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Si­mon York, di­rec­tor of the fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion ser­vice, HMRC, said: “This was a truly ap­palling case. Th­ese peo­ple lived a life of lux­ury by ex­ploit­ing and abus­ing highly vul­ner­a­ble in­di­vid­u­als. They stripped them of their hu­man­ity, forc­ing them to live and work in ter­ri­ble con­di­tions.

“HMRC is pas­sion­ately com­mit­ted to work­ing closely with po­lice forces and other agen­cies to pro­tect vic­tims and bring the full force of gov­ern­ment sanc­tions against their abusers, en­sur­ing they are brought to jus­tice and stripped of their il­le­gal as­sets.” Those con­victed were:

John Rooney, 31, of Drin­sey Nook, Sh­effield Road, Sax­ilby – con­spir­acy to re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour, con­spir­acy to de­fraud, fraud by false rep­re­sen­ta­tion, theft (two counts). Re­ceived 15 years and six months.

Pa­trick Rooney, 31, of Drin­sey Nook, Sh­effield Road, Sax­ilby – con­spir­acy to re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour, fraud by abuse of po­si­tion, as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm, theft (two counts). Re­ceived 15 years and nine months.

Brid­get Rooney, 55, of Drin­sey Nook, Sh­effield Road, Sax­ilby – con­spir­acy to re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour. Re­ceived seven years.

Martin Rooney, 35, of Sain­foin Farm, Gate­moor Lane, Bea­cons­field – con­spir­acy to de­fraud, con­vert­ing crim­i­nal prop­erty (two counts). Re­ceived two years sus­pended for two years.

Martin Rooney, 57, of Drin­sey Nook, Sh­effield Road, Sax­ilby – con­spir­acy to re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour, un­law­ful wound­ing. Re­ceived 10 years and nine months.

Martin Rooney (23) of Drin­sey Nook, Sh­effield Road, Sax­ilby – con­spir­acy to re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour, as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm. Re­ceived six years and nine months.

Pa­trick Rooney, 54, of Sain­foin Farm, Gate­moor Lane, Bea­cons­field – con­vert­ing crim­i­nal prop­erty. Re­ceived 12 months sus­pended for two years.

John Rooney, 53, of Chantry Croft, Pon­te­fract – re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour (two counts). Re­ceived five years and 10 months.

Peter Do­ran, 36, of Wash­ing­bor­ough Road, Lin­coln – re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour. Re­ceived six years.

Ger­ard Rooney, 46, of Wash­ing­bor­ough Road, Lin­coln – re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour. Re­ceived six years.

Lawrence Rooney, 47, cur­rently in prison – re­quire a per­son to per­form forced or com­pul­sory labour. Re­ceived six years.

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