Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedfordshire family members deny slavery charges

Six people have appeared in court accused of slavery offences over the discovery of vulnerable men at a caravan park in Bedfordshire.

Police who raided Green Acres Caravan Site near Leighton Buzzard last September found the men in horse boxes, sheds and other poor accommodation.

The six people, all with the surname Connors, appeared at Luton Crown Court to deny 20 slavery charges.

A seventh was too ill to attend but all are due to stand trial on 16 April.

All pleaded not guilty to two main charges at Monday's hearing. These were conspiracy to hold a person in servitude and conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Taken to hospital

James John Connors, 34, denied three counts of each offence plus actual bodily harm and battery.

Josie Connors, 30, denied two counts of each offence and Johnny Connors, one count of each.

Brothers Tommy Connors Junior, 26, Jimmy, 23, and Patrick, 20, face six counts each of the two charges.

The brothers' father, Thomas Connors, 52, was absent in court after being taken to hospital earlier on Monday morning. His legal team indicated that he too would have pleaded not guilty.

All are said to be members of the travelling community and police arrested them for allegedly keeping the vulnerable men against their will on the caravan site and forcing them to carry out unpaid labour.

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