The tiny corner of Notts where 11 members of the same family kept modern-day slaves

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This is the site in a corner of Nottinghamshire where 11 members of the same family committed "completely unacceptable" modern-day slavery offences - with a judge likening their victims' plight to that of peasants in medieval times.

Nine members of the family have now been jailed following a series of linked trials relating to modern slavery and fraud at Nottingham Crown Court. Two defendants received suspended sentences.

The victims were forced to work either on travellers' sites or for the defendants' businesses repairing properties and paving driveways.

Prosecutors said that although food was promised, the victims, aged 18 to 63, were poorly fed and often went hungry, being paid little or nothing for working long hours.

The heart of the slavery ring was at Drinsey Nook, a small village on the Notts/Lincs border dominated by the property which was run by the Rooney family.

A map showing Drinsey Nook on the Notts/Lincs border.

A map showing Drinsey Nook on the Notts/Lincs border.

Although the village comes under the administration of Lincolnshire, the sprawling collection of buildings which many of the Rooneys called home is actually in Notts.

The head of the ring, 57-year-old Martin Rooney, was jailed for 10 years and nine months on Wednesday, September 12, after being convicted of wounding and conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

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At Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Timothy Spencer QC contrasted the family's wealth, foreign holidays and expensive cars with the dirty caravans and squalid conditions their victims lived in.

The judge said the difference between the family's lifestyle and "spotlessly clean" living conditions, and the lives of their victims "was akin to the gulf between medieval royalty and the peasantry".

A caravan which men were forced to live in by the Rooneys

A caravan which men were forced to live in by the Rooneys

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

All the victims of the offences - including a man kept in "truly shocking" conditions for decades - were described as extremely vulnerable, with some having learning disabilities and mental health issues.

Top row, from the left: Bridget Rooney, Gerald Rooney, John Rooney, 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.

Top row, from the left: Bridget Rooney, Gerald Rooney, John Rooney, 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.

The judge added: "It may be that society and government have been slow to wake up to this pernicious wrongdoing.

"But society and government have woken up - the relevant law - now known as the modern slavery legislation - came into force in 2010."

"And the jury's verdict made it crystal clear that society regards what was going on in Drinsey as completely unacceptable."

The Rooney family tree

The Rooney family tree

These are the defendants who were convicted:

Bridget Rooney (55) of Drinsey Nook, Sheffield Road, Saxilby received 7 years. Conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Bridget Rooney

Bridget Rooney

Martin Rooney Snr (57) of Drinsey Nook, Sheffield Road, Saxilby received 10 years 9 months. Conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour, Unlawful wounding.

Martin Rooney Senior

Martin Rooney Senior

Martin Rooney Jnr (23) of Drinsey Nook, Sheffield Road, Saxilby received 6 years 9 months. Conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour, assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Martin Rooney

Martin Rooney

Patrick Rooney Jnr (31) of Drinsey Nook, Sheffield Road, Saxilby received 15 years 9 months. Conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour, fraud by abuse of position, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, theft (two counts).

Patrick Rooney

Patrick Rooney

Martin Rooney (35) of Sainfoin Farm, Gatemoor Lane, Beaconsfield received 2 years suspended for 2 years. Conspiracy to defraud, converting criminal property (two counts).

Martin Rooney

Martin Rooney

Patrick Rooney Snr (54) of Sainfoin Farm, Gatemoor Lane, Beaconsfield received 12 months suspended for 2 years. Converting criminal property.

Patrick Rooney

Patrick Rooney

Lawrence Rooney (47) currently in prison, received 6 years. Require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Lawrence Rooney

Lawrence Rooney

John Rooney (31) of Drinsey Nook, Sheffield Road, Saxilby received 15 years 6 months. Conspiracy to require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour, conspiracy to defraud, fraud by false representation, theft (two counts).

John Rooney, 31

John Rooney, 31

John Rooney (53) of Chantry Croft, Pontefract received 5 years 10 months. Require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour (two counts).

John Rooney, 53

John Rooney, 53

Gerard Rooney (46) of Washingborough Road, Lincoln received 6 years. Require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Gerard Rooney

Gerard Rooney

Peter Doran (36) of Washingborough Road, Lincoln received 6 years. Require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Peter Doran

Peter Doran

Commenting after the case, 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."

Chief Superintendent Nikki Mayo, Senior Investigating Officer, said: “These men were being kept in very poor conditions and made to work for little money. The extent of these conditions soon became apparent – the victims were ‘accommodated’ in caravans without running water or access to toilet facilities, and in some cases the electricity to them was dangerously obtained from a nearby pylon.

The entrance to the property in Drinsey Nook

The entrance to the property in Drinsey Nook

“The men were incredibly vulnerable. They had been located and picked up by the defendants from all over the country and specifically targeted because they were vulnerable and homeless.

“They were promised that they would be looked after, sheltered and fed in return for work and were then trafficked into the site. In fact they were being completely exploited – working long hours tarmacking driveways and block paving for the family. These businesses operated illicitly by using stolen materials and tools and advertised on hoardings where they didn’t have permission to do so.”

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“Their living quarters were truly shocking and at times the men resided in site stables next to the dog kennels. The promise of food was also fabricated. 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.

“The tragedy in this case is that the victims will never get those years of their lives back – we believe one man was held for 26 years. The severity and gravity of the charges speak for themselves. Modern slavery is a cruel and extremely demoralising crime and it’s important that people understand that it isn’t just forced labour like this – victims can be sexually exploited, or forced into committing crimes.”