Head of Traveller family in England jailed for 10 years for running modern-day slavery ring

The head of a Traveller family in England who helped to run a modern day slavery ring has been jailed for 10 years and nine months.

Martin Rooney, aged 57, was among 11 gang members convicted of involvement in offences which included the keeping of one man in "truly shocking" conditions for decades.

A total of 11 defendants were convicted of offences following a series of linked trials relating to modern slavery and fraud at Nottingham Crown Court.

Rooney, of Drinsey Nook, Sheffield Road, Saxilby, Lincolnshire, was jailed at the same court today after being convicted of wounding and conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Other members of the Rooney family were given custodial sentences ranging from 15 to six years, while two received suspended sentences.

Six people were initially arrested in September 2014 when seven warrants were executed in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and London as part of inquiries into allegations of modern slavery.

(top row, from the left) Bridget Rooney, Gerald Rooney, JohnRooney, 53, John Rooney, 31, (middle row, from the left) Lawrence Rooney, Martin Rooney, 35, Martin Rooney Snr, Martin Rooney, 23, (bottom row, from the left) Patrick Rooney, 54, Patrick Rooney, 31, and Peter Doran.

All the victims of the offences were described as extremely vulnerable, including several who had learning disabilities and mental health issues, and were estranged from their families.

Commenting on the sentences handed down to those involved in the offences, Chief Superintendent Chris Davison, head of crime for Lincolnshire Police, said: "The severity of these crimes is underlined by the sentences imposed by the judge.

"The victims will never get the years back that were taken away from them but I hope this provides them with some comfort that justice has been served and demonstrates that we will do everything in our power to try and stop others suffering in the ways that they did."

Officers from Britain's HM Revenue and Customs supported Lincolnshire Police from the start of the investigation, identifying income tax, VAT and Tax Credit offences after analysing the family's illegal trading activities.

Simon York, director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: "These people lived a life of luxury by exploiting and abusing highly vulnerable individuals.

"They stripped them of their humanity, forcing them to live and work in terrible conditions."

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