A BRITISH family kept 18 homeless people, some with learning disabilities, as slaves for up to 26 years and spent the money they earned on luxury holidays and cosmetic surgery.
The Rooney clan trafficked its victims, aged between 18 and 63, and forced them to live in cramped caravans without water or heating while they enjoyed a life of luxury, The Sun reports.
The slaves spent their days tarmacking driveways for little or no money while the family jetted around the world on lavish holidays to Barbados, Australia, Egypt and Mexico.
They also splashed out on luxury BMWs, gym memberships and a soccer school at Manchester United, while their slaves lived without access to toilets.
A court heard the Rooneys had targeted the homeless offering food, work and accommodation to entice them to sites in Lincolnshire.
On arrival, victims were plied with booze and drugs until the clan had complete control over them — even managing their bank accounts.
Chief Superintendent Nikki Mayo, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “Victims were often only provided food when they worked and at times it was restricted to the family’s leftovers.
“Often their only ‘payment’ was a packet of tobacco and a limited amount of alcohol, which didn’t help those with addictions, and was another way in which the defendants exerted control over them.
“They were not given training for the manual labour and — although not physically trapped — they were financially, emotionally and physically abused, making any escape seem impossible.
“Victims who did pluck up the courage [to escape] were often searched for by the family and, if located, returned and put back to work.”
Police said some of the victims had learning disabilities or mental health issues, while others were entirely dependent on alcohol or drugs.
It is believed one man had been kept prisoner on the site for 26 years.
Chief Superintendent Mayo added: “The greatest positive of this case is that so many of the victims have now got their lives back, they’ve got a real second chance at some peace and happiness and to grow and flourish in their communities — it’s very much deserved.”
Lincolnshire Police and the National Crime Agency first raided the clan’s properties in 2014, when a total of six people were arrested.
Over the course of three trials between November 2016 and August 2017, John, 31, Patrick, 31, Bridget, 55, Martin Snr, 57, Martin, 23, John, 53, Peter, 36, Gerald, 46, and Lawrence Rooney, 47, were all convicted of conspiring to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.
Another Martin Rooney, 35, was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and converting criminal property and Patrick, 54, was convicted of converting criminal property.
The Rooney family will be sentenced on September 7, 8, 11 and 12 at the same court.
Janine Smith, from the Crown Prosecution Service, added: “These members of the Rooney family lived lives of luxury at the expense of their victims, condemning them to live in fear, misery and squalor.
“For them, exploitation, violence and extortion were a way of life.
“The defendants have caused serious harm to the people they exploited, some of whom have now passed away.
“Bringing this family to justice has been a complex and time-consuming case due to the prolific nature of their offending.”
This story was originally published in The Sun and is reproduced with their permission