Man tells modern slavery trial he was 'petrified'

Oxford Crown Court Image copyright Google
Image caption Michael Joyce is on trial at Oxford Crown Court accused of five counts of modern slavery

An alleged victim of modern slavery has said he remains "petrified" of his supposed abuser, a court has heard.

Michael Joyce, 60, of Redbridge Hollow, Oxford, is accused of five counts of modern slavery against two men between April 2016 and January 2018.

At Oxford Crown Court prosecutor Kim Preston claimed Mr Joyce used inflated "double bubble debt" to entrap alleged victim Paul West into repaying more than £16,000.

Mr Joyce denies all charges.

Ms Preston told the court Mr West, who worked at a site at Redbridge Hollow, used his benefits to pay Mr Joyce.

Speaking the court via video link, Mr West said: "To this day I'm petrified of him."

He said he became a methadone and heroin addict after meeting Mr Joyce.

But defence barrister Paul Haynes QC asked: "How did you fund your [drug] habit, bearing in mind you told the jury that all your benefits money went to Mick Joyce?"

Mr West said he borrowed money from his father.

Mr Joyce's counsel also accused Mr West of being a drug addict before meeting Mr Joyce, after getting a referral to a methadone clinic in February 2016.

Mr Joyce is accused of making Paul Gilding and Paul West perform forced or compulsory labour.

He is accused of facilitating the travel of both men with a view to exploitation, and is charged with money lending when not an authorised person.

Oxford Crown Court heard that in December 2018 three men were acquitted of modern slavery charges, but a verdict could not be reached on charges levelled at Mr Joyce.

The trial continues.

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