AN APPARENT Good Samaritan, who offered a homeless man food, clothing and shelter, has been jailed for 11 years after forcing his victim into slavery.
Irishman Joseph Rooney, 45, of Washingborough Caravan Site, Lincoln, promised to look after his homeless victim after finding him sleeping rough in the city.
Instead, the 54-year-old man was forced to work around the country for a pittance while living in appalling conditions.
Rooney was found guilty on Thursday of conspiracy to require persons to perform forced or compulsory labour and two assaults.
His conviction is the final one as part of Operation Pottery – Lincolnshire Police’s investigation into modern slavery, in which nine members of Rooney’s family were sentenced last year to a combined 79 years.
Leg break threat
Rooney brought his victim to the Washingborough Caravan Site with the promise of food, clothing and shelter.
However when the man realised these were empty promises and tried to leave, he was physically stopped by the Rooney family and threatened that his legs would be broken if he tried again.
Rooney kept his victim’s bank card and took money paid into the account, as well as using it to bank cheques from driveway customers.
The victim was made to work for long hours tarmacking, working on driveways, tidying the site and running errands.
He was fed once a day and given a daily allowance of £10 plus a bottle of cider.
Drinking screen wash
On one occasion he awoke to find another ‘worker’ he was sharing a filthy caravan with had died.
The man, who was alcohol dependent, had turned to drinking screen wash after he was deprived of alcohol.
The victim finally escaped only for Rooney to track him down.
However after assaulting the victim, his attempt to bring him back to the caravan site was thwarted when a member of the public intervened and called the police.
Officers were unable to arrest Rooney during the police enforcement at the Washingborough site in March 2015 as he had flown to Los Angeles.
In March 2016, he was arrested by the New Jersey Police Department, deported and taken into custody by Lincolnshire Police.
Chief Superintendent Nikki Mayo said: “This may be the last conviction for our Operation Pottery investigation but we will continue to tackle modern slavery in Lincolnshire and get justice for victims.”