Connors trial: Worker 'would have been found if he left'

A man "forced to work" for a traveller family for 18 years "stuck it out" because he "would have been found" if he left, a court was told.

Bristol Crown Court heard how men were forced to work in Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

Alexander Gourlay said he wanted to leave but had "nowhere to stay".

William Connors, 52, Brida (Mary) Connors, 48, their sons John, 29, and James Connors, 20, and son-in-law Miles Connors, 23, deny the charges.

Giving evidence via video link Mr Gourlay, 54, said William Connors, known as Billy, would have gone to find him if he had left, so he "stuck it out".

'Given cake'

"I wanted to leave but I had no place to stay. I would have to stay on a park bench or another hostel," Mr Gourlay said.

"If I went to a hostel Billy would have come and found me.

"Every time a workman leaves Billy always goes out to find them. Billy knows exactly where they are."

Being questioned by Michael Borrelli QC, representing William Connors, Mr Gourlay told the court he felt like he was "part of the family" and was given a birthday cake and a party in an Irish club and on another occasion TV was bought for him.

Mr Gourlay said some of the other workmen were alcoholics and William Connors had difficulty in stopping them drinking as he wanted them fit for work.

"Billy told us that we couldn't drink on the actual job or before," he said.

"He always told us that he didn't mind us drinking the night before but make sure we were sober in the morning, ready for work."

Police carried out a series of raids on travellers sites in March 2011. Mr Gourlay was found in a caravan in Kirk Lane, Enderby, Leicestershire.

Many of the alleged victims were housed in caravans at Beggars Roost site in Staverton, near Cheltenham.

The defendants all deny charges of conspiracy to hold another person in servitude and conspiracy to require a person to carry out forced or compulsory labour.

The trial continues.

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