South East Wales

Alleged forced labour victim treated 'like family member'

Patrick Connors
Image caption Patrick Joseph Connors

A man accused of forced labour charges told a Cardiff Crown Court he treated the alleged victim, "like a member of the family".

Patrick Joseph Connors said Michael Hughes was allowed to eat with the family and use their swimming pool.

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

They are accused of forcing Mr Hughes, 46, and another man - referred to as Mr K - to work for tiny sums.

Mr Connors senior described how he had met Michael Hughes when he was 18, and offered him work.

He said Mr Hughes, originally from Aberdeen, had stayed in his daughter's bedroom, then moved to a converted garage with a shower.

The court heard that Mr Hughes was paid £20 a day, which went up to £50 as he became a more skilled labourer.

Mr Connors senior described how Mr Hughes used to buy sweets for the youngest of his children, who called him brother.

He denied assaulting Mr Hughes during the time he was working with him.

Paid with alcohol

The court has previously heard evidence from the alleged victims that they were only paid £10 per day or less, sometimes in the form of alcohol or tobacco, were beaten or threatened if they did not do as they were told and were hunted down if they tried to get away.

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.

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

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 Carbis, of Trowbridge, also denies one count of kidnap between 2001 and 2002.

The trial continues.

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