Man jailed for keeping 'slave'

Husband and wife David and Donna Rooke

Husband and wife David and Donna Rooke

First published in National News © by

An ice cream business owner who kept a vulnerable man like a "slave" has been jailed for six-and-a-half years by a judge who said it was "staggering" this could happen in modern society.

David Rooke forced Craig Kinsella, 34, to live in a garage where he suffered regular beatings and ended up scavenging for food in bins, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Rooke, 44, today admitted falsely imprisoning and attacking Mr Kinsella and was jailed along with his wife Donna, 40, and son Jamie, 19.

CCTV footage of various members of the Rooke family assaulting Mr Kinsella was shown to Judge Peter Kelson QC who said it was impossible to watch without wincing.

The judge said the family used Kinsella like a "punchbag" and treated him "like a dog".

"It's almost unbelievable," he said.

Judge Kelson told the Rookes: "His will had been completely broken by the way you treated him. You treated him like a dog."

He said: "Man's inhumanity to man never ceases to shock."

The judge said: "He was fed very little - fed by way of food left out. He was kept hungry. He was constantly beaten and battered.

"He was just your punchbag, all three of you. If you were in a bad mood you would just go and kick and punch Craig Kinsella.

"It is staggering that this is happening in our society, absolutely staggering. It is almost unbelievable."

Judge Kelson told David Rooke: "He was under your control.

"He was treated horrendously. He was treated like a dog. The conditions were grotesque and you were just exploiting him."

He went on: "This was two months of horrendous violence. One could not watch the CCTV without wincing repeatedly. You made him your punchbag."

Judge Kelson concluded his sentencing remarks saying: "The hatred is simply immeasurable."

Commending South Yorkshire Police, he said: "My fear is that there are more of these cases about and we are now only beginning to discover them."

David Rooke admitted false imprisonment today and a number of counts of causing actual bodily harm.

Jamie Rooke admitted affray and a number of counts of causing actual bodily harm. He was jailed for four years.

Donna Rooke admitted a specimen count of battery. She was jailed for four months.

All three live on Halifax Road, Grenoside, Sheffield, where Mr Kinsella was living in the garage at the side of the family home for about two months before police intervened in July last year.

He was not allowed into the house.

Prosecutor David Brooke said the victim's life was completely controlled by the Rookes using casual violence and intimidation.

Mr Brooke said one neighbour told police: "He was like their slave.

"They talked to him like a dog.

"They used 'horrible' words. He never retaliated."

Mr Brooke said the family used "unpleasant and casual" violence to leave Mr Kinsella so terrified he would work from 7.30am to midnight for no money cleaning their garden and vans.

He ended up living in their garage, eating occasional cold meals left out for him and using a bucket for a toilet.

Mr Brooke said the attacks on Mr Kinsella involved weapons such as pick-axe handles, spade handles and a crowbar.

The prosecutor said: "He went on to explain that he'd been living in the garage and that he'd slept on a piece of carpet and used an old curtain as a blanket.

"He wasn't paid by the family nor fed regularly and he regularly picked food from the wheelie bin to eat. He was obviously emaciated."

Mr Brooke said the victim initially told officers he deserved one of the beatings because he had been stealing food from a wheelie bin.

He said Mr Kinsella began to work for the family a number of years ago and was paid £40 a week so he could keep claiming benefits.

But the Rookes took him to the post office to withdraw his money and took control of his finances, the prosecutor explained.

He had a flat in the city and was occasionally driven there to have a bath, although the prosecutor said it was in a terrible state. He was spotted washing his few clothes in a bucket.

Mr Kinsella eventually told police what happened to him after officers were called to the bungalow following an incident in which Jamie Rooke produced a knife during an altercation with a neighbour.

Mr Kinsella was taken to hospital after an officer spotted a range of injuries and he eventually told his story.

Mr Brooke said Mr Kinsella told police he was regularly threatened by David Rooke, who told him he would be a "dead man" if he escaped.

He said Rooke told the victim: "I'll hunt you down."

The prosecutor added that Mr Kinsella was clearly scared about whether the Rookes would track him down, even after he was with the police.

Mr Brooke told the court this was a "disturbing and unpleasant" case.

He said: "He became what he called a slave - working from 7.30 in the morning to 11 or 12 at night."

The court heard Mr Kinsella had learning difficulties and neighbours described him as being a bit "slow".

The judge ordered David Rooke to pay Mr Kinsella £15,000 that police found in cash in his home.

Judge Kelson said: "Quite clearly this in no way reflects the pain and suffering inflicted on Craig Kinsella but it's better than nothing."

Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector Vicky Short, from South Yorkshire Police, said her officers could easily have been investigating a murder.

Ms Short said: "The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Rooke family on a highly vulnerable man plumbed the depths of depravity.

"David, Donna and Jamie Rooke abused Mr Kinsella for their own pleasure until his spirit and will to stand up for himself and fight back was crushed.

"It is hard to understand how any human being could treat an individual in such a grotesque, callous and inhuman manner.

"I am confident that if we had not received that phone call that day last July we would have been investigating a murder."

Ms Short said that when Mr Kinsella was taken to hospital he was found to be suffering from a broken right arm, a fractured rib, extreme bruising to his back and around his kidney, a fractured chin and cuts, and lumps and bruises on his head and legs.

She said: "He is still recovering from his injuries. He is still in pain physically. Mentally, he is still reliving the incident that's occurred. But he's being looked after by a number of outside agencies. He was greatly in fear that his life would be taken."

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