Court hears how homeless man was forced into slavery in St Albans

The victim has been praised for her bravery

The victim has been praised for her bravery - Credit: Archant

A homeless alcoholic was forced to live in sheds and a camper van in St Albans while working up to 14 hours a day after being picked up on the streets in London, a court has heard.

The 43-year-old Scotsman carried out unpaid block paving and building work after allegedly being told he would be given a flat and paid work.

But, prosecutor Peter Shaw told St Albans Crown Court, the man had been kept in servitude in the Maloney household in Watford Road, St Albans, in 2004 and was required to perform forced labour.

Twenty-six-year-old Johnny Moloney aka Murphy and his wife Shanon Loveridge, 22, of Watford Road, are both charged with knowingly holding a person in slavery or servitude and knowingly requiring another person to perform forced labour in St Albans between April 2010 and December 2014.

The charges only relate to offences after 2010 when an Act of Parliament came into effect.

The couple were arrested on 11 March 2015. They made no comment in police interviews and have submitted written statements to the court, denying the offences.

The man, giving evidence via a video link, said he was rarely sober when he met Johnny Maloney on the Strand in June 2004 and was offered a job.

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When he arrived at the Watford Road property, he slept in the front of a lorry for about a week and then moved to a shed with only blankets on the floor.

Later he said the family bought a bigger wooden shed in which there were sometimes eight or nine destitute men sleeping in bunk beds.

Mr Shaw said between 2004 and 2011 the man was never paid, but was made to clean and carry out block paving and tarmacking work. “A working day could be up to 14 hours. It would sometimes be seven days a week but, if lucky, he would get Sunday off.”

After 2011 he was paid at the rate of £30 a day when it came to light that a man had been jailed for modern day slavery.

Mr Shaw told the court that in the summer the men travelled for paving work across England, Ireland and Europe, using passports which Jonny Moloney kept.

“He was told by the first defendant if the police ever asked them how much they were getting paid for their work they were to say they were getting £70 to £80 a day and to say they were looked after ok.”

The prosecutor went on: “He said that the first defendant would sometimes slap him in the face, about five times in total. This was usually in relation to work. When he was asked why he never came to the police at an earlier stage he said he was in fear of violence from them if he did.”

The victim made a 999 call on Christmas Day 2014 and the police arrived to find him in a campervan.

Mr Shaw said: “Mr Maloney was clearly the man who picked him up and enforced his participation in working, initially for no money at all.”

He maintained that Shanon Loveridge had clearly known what was going on and was directly involved.

Case proceeding.