AN IRISH man who kept a homeless person as a slave was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday.
Johnny Moloney, 30, who also goes by the name of Johnny Murphy, was found guilty on Wednesday of two counts of modern slavery offences, including knowingly requiring another person to perform forced labour and knowingly holding a person in slavery or servitude, between 2010 and 2014.
Moloney, from the Irish Traveller community, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for the first offence and four years for the second offence.
Both sentences will run concurrently, meaning he will be in custody for four years.
Moloney, of Watford Road, St Albans, was told after being found guilty that he would face a "significant" prison sentence, as the offences committed carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
He will be eligible for parole on June 17, 2018, two years to the day he was sentenced.
During the trial, St Albans Crown Court heard how Moloney had picked up homeless man Cameron Biggar in London in 2004, with the promise of work and somewhere to live.
Mr Biggar, who had an alcohol-dependency problem, had been sleeping rough after losing his job and voluntarily went with Moloney.
The 43-year-old was taken to Bedfordshire and then to Hertfordshire where he was forced to live in sheds and a camper van with no sanitation.
He was physically and verbally abused and made to work more than 14 hours a day for little reward.
During his time in servitude, Mr Biggar was taken by Moloney to work in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham, laying paving slabs.
He was finally able to alert the authorities to his situation on Christmas Day 2014 when he made a 999 call.
Moloney and his wife, Shanon Loveridge, were arrested in March 2015 and charged with modern slavery offences.
Although Mr Biggar was picked up by Moloney in 2004, the charges only relate to offences after 2010, when an Act of Parliament relating to modern day slavery offences came into effect.
On Monday (June 13) the judge directed the jury to find Ms Loveridge, 22, also of Watford Road, St Albans, not guilty of the same two charges as Moloney.
Peter Shaw, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The victim was a vulnerable man who had been promised paid work and a place to live in a flat. The work was hard physical labour, consisting of digging driveways and carrying bricks. He was completely exploited by Moloney for financial gain and was treated in an appalling way."
Detective Inspector Pete Frost, who led the investigation, added: “To think that another human being was subjected to such cruelty and suffering and in such a degrading manner is abhorrent and almost defies belief, particularly considering this has happened in the twenty first century.
"Sadly, this is the reality of modern slavery – which is unfortunately happening to others somewhere else right now."
A correction was made to this story on 17/06/2016 at 20.15. The story previously read "Moloney, from the Irish Traveller community, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for the first offence and one year for the second offence."