Eleven members of a family in Lincolnshire have been jailed for what is alleged to be modern day slavery.
According to the Guardian, the Rooney family of England have been incarcerated for violently exploiting at least 18 victims, including homeless people and men with learning disabilities.
The judge said that the victims were kept in squalid conditions without running water or toilets, while the family (10 men and one woman) lived a lavish life of Rolex watches, luxuy cars, Caribbean holidays and homes that were “palatial in comparison." The judge, Timothy Spencer QC, said the difference in living conditions was “akin to the gulf between medieval royalty and the peasantry."
The Rooneys targeted their victims by literally picking them off the streets outside of hostels or shelters. The victims were between 18 and 63 years old and were enticed with promise of money, shelter, food and work.
The family would exploit the victims' addictions as well. “Sometimes payment was not monetary but by cheap cider which promoted a dependency upon alcohol, which provided another means of control over them,” Judge Spencer explained, according to The Guardian.
“Your victims had reached a position where they were cowed into submission. Any resistance, they knew, was futile. It would have been met by you recruiting other family members and delivering more violence," he added. “You knew they would offer no resistance at all – nor did they. These offences are chilling in their mercilessness.”
As RT shares, one man was exploited by the family for 26 years. He says that he was once made to dig his own grave, in case he wouldn't pledge life-long service to the family. Another said he was forced to eat leftovers thrown at him on the ground.
Victims were eventually freed following raids by Lincolnshire Police and the National Crime Agency in 2014. The National Crime Agency reported that there were possibly tens of thousands of modern slavery victims in the United Kingdom. This number is higher than law enforcement previously believed.
The family members received 79 years behind bars for modern slavery and fraud offenses.
[Photo: Lincolnshire Police]