South East Wales

'Prison was holiday camp compared to forced labour', court hears

Cardiff Crown Court Image copyright Google

A man allegedly forced to do hard labour for 26 years in south Wales has told a jury prison was like a "holiday camp" compared to the ordeal.

Patrick Joseph Connors, 59, Patrick Dean Connors, 39, William Connors, 36, and Lee Carbis, 34, deny several offences.

They allegedly kept Michael Hughes, 46, and another man, 41, in "appalling conditions" and paid them tiny sums.

Mr Hughes said he was "bought" by Mr Connors senior.

On Wednesday, Aberdeen-born Mr Hughes said Mr Connors senior made him live in a 1.2m (4ft) wide garden shed with no heating or running water for two years.

He sobbed while giving evidence, saying he had to work long hours for as little as £5 a day - even with a broken leg - and would get beatings "all the time".

Mr Hughes said he was given brief respite from his ordeal after being sent back to Scotland for unpaid fines before being jailed.

'Come after me'

"Prison was like a holiday camp," he said. "I had three meals a day. I had a shower, a telly, heating. I did not really care about my freedom.

"I had to go back down to Wales when I was released. Paddy (Mr Connors senior) told me to ... because he would come after me again."

Mr Hughes, who was taken into care at the age of three, said he left northern Scotland and came to Wales in search of a better life.

However, after a brief stint doing building work for a man called Johnny Wall his services were acquired by a family in the Marshfield area before being "passed onto" the Connors.

He said: "I think he (Mr Connors senior) bought me."

'Vulnerable'

On Tuesday, a jury heard Mr Hughes and his fellow alleged victim - who cannot be named but has been referred to in court as Mr K - were "hunted down" whenever they escaped.

All four defendants deny one count of requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour between 2010 and 2013.

Patrick Joseph Connors, of Rumney, Cardiff, has also pleaded not guilty to eight counts of causing actual bodily harm, four of kidnap and one of conspiracy to kidnap.

His elder son Patrick Dean Connors, of Rumney, denies kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap.

Younger son William Connors, also of Rumney, has pleaded not guilty to causing actual bodily harm on a man between 2009 and 2013.

Patrick Joseph Connors' son-in-law Lee Carbis, of Trowbridge, Cardiff, also denies one count of kidnap between 2001 and 2002.

The trial continues.

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