St Albans traveller is jailed for four years for slavery offences
PUBLISHED: 09:07 22 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:07 22 June 2016
A four year prison sentence has been handed down to a St Albans traveller convicted of slavery offences.
Johnny Moloney, also known as Johnny Murphy, 30, of Watford Road, was found guilty at St Albans Crown Court last week following an eight-day trial.
He had pleaded not guilty to knowingly requiring another person to perform forced labour in St Albans between April 2010 and December 2014 and knowingly holding a person in slavery or servitude. He had elected not to go in the witness box to give evidence to the jury.
On Friday, Moloney was sentenced to three years in custody on the first count and four years in custody on the second, to run concurrently.
The court heard how the victim, alcoholic Cameron Biggar who had been living rough in London, was lured off the streets by Moloney, who was then 18, with the promise of a flat, regular work and food.
Instead Scotsman Mr Biggar, who is now 43, found himself living in a cold shed at the travellers’ site in Watford Road without any running water and just a bucket for a toilet.
As well as being forced to live in sheds and a camper van with no sanitation, he was also physically and verbally abused and made to work more than 14 hours a day for little reward.
Moloney bought him a passport but he kept strong security around it and during the summer Mr Biggar would be taken to Ireland, Europe, Manchester and Birmingham and forced to lay paving slabs.
On one occasion he escaped but was traced by Moloney and threatened before being returned to a site in Leighton Buzzard where he was drugged and forced to work again.
On Friday, Judge Andrew Bright told Moloney, a married man with three young children, that the offences, “represented the deliberate degrading of a fellow human being over a substantial period of time.”
The judge went on, “You forbade him from having any contact with friends and family.”
He said Mr Biggar had been kept a prisoner and when he had tried to escape Moloney’s clutches in 2006, the young traveller had gone after him and bought him back to the traveller site in St Albans where he lived.
Det Insp Pete Frost, who led the investigation, said: “Firstly, I would like to thank the victim who has spoken about his dreadful ordeal and who has helped us to bring this prosecution. He has shown strength and courage throughout this process.
“I hope the sentence passed today brings some comfort to him, knowing that the man who treated him in such an appalling manner has been sentenced for what he has done.
“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.
Crown Prosecution advocate, Peter Shaw, added: “This case highlights the fact that both the police and the Crown Prosecution Service are committed to securing justice even in the most difficult circumstances and for the most vulnerable members of society.
“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.”
He pointed out that the case might not be unique and urged anyone who was concerned that a member of their family or their friends might have been subjected to similar treatment to contact police on 101 or visit www.modernslavery.com