A Sheffield family which beat up a vulnerable man with learning difficulties and treated him as their slave was told by a judge: “Man’s inhumanity to man never ceases to shock”.
Sheffield Crown Court had heard how Craig Kinsella, aged 34, was forced to work 15 hours a day and live in the Rookes’ family garage in Halifax Road, near Grenoside.
David Rooke, his wife Donna, and their son Jamie, used him as a ‘punchbag’ so he would not escape, and attacked him with a spade handle, crowbar and pickaxe handle. They starved him, forced him to sleep on a concrete floor, and made him use a bucket as a toilet. He was so hungry he scavenged for food from a wheelie bin.
The Rookes took away his benefits, telling him it was to pay for his food, and made him work from 7.30am until midnight, clearing dog mess from the garden and cleaning the family’s ice cream vans.
Judge Peter Kelson QC said: “It is staggering that this is happening in our society, absolutely staggering. It’s almost unbelievable. But we are now seeing prosecutions in this country for slavery, and beginning to wake up to the fact.”
The Rookes had completely broken Mr Kinsella’s will and he was too afraid to leave. “He was treated horrendously badly. He was treated like a dog.”
Police launched an investigation after they received a telephone call about a man being assaulted outside the house. It revealed abuse between last May and July. Injuries included a broken arm and rib.