A FAMILY of Oxford travellers enslaved two men, forcing them to carry out manual labour, as well as sell drugs and steal from building yards, a court heard.

Prosecutors claim that the alleged victims of modern slavery offences were slapped and threatened with further violence with one telling police he was ‘petrified’ of the men during the 18-month ordeal.

Michael Joyce, 59, his sons Michael Joyce, 26,and John Joyce, 34, all from Redbridge Hollow, Oxford, as well as David Boiling, 33, of Northfield Close, Littlemore, all deny five counts alleging forced labour and modern slavery.

As the trial at Oxford Crown Court continued this morning prosecutor Kim Preston told jurors that both alleged victims had been exploited because of their ‘vulnerability.’

She said: “They worked together, each with different roles, and they have developed an income and developed an ability to get work done for practically nothing by those that are the most vulnerable.

“Both vulnerable men, both come from Berinsfield. They have been belittled, cajoled, threatened, exploited and then they have been coerced into committing crimes for these defendants.”

Speaking of the roles each of the men played in the alleged exploitation the court heard that Michael Joyce senior was known as the ‘boss man’ with Michael junior and John Joyce the ‘enforcers’ with David Boiling a ‘trusted insider.’

The offences are alleged to have taken place between April 1 2016 and January 31 2018. Jurors went on to hear today that one of the alleged victims – Paul West, first got involved with the men after taking out a loan with Michael Joyce for £50.

He was told it was a ‘double bubble’ loan, the court heard, in which he was expected to repay £100 back to Michael Joyce senior.

What followed, jurors were told, was 18 months of forced labour in which Mr West was coerced into carrying out unpaid work, including the construction of a pub at the Redbridge Hollow site all while being made subject to threats of violence.

Jurors were played a video recorded police interview conducted with Mr West after he had reported the incidents.

He told police that during the period of forced labour he was left ‘petrified’ at what might happen to him and had considered ending his life.

The second alleged victim, Paul Gilding, was also forced into servitude after he broke a circular saw while working for the men, the court heard.

It was an apparent debt for the replacement of that saw which was the spark that saw him regularly made to work for nothing, jurors were told.

Prosecutor Kim Preston said: “These defendants have preyed on the vulnerabilities of the people who you are going to hear from, in order to use them to do their bidding.”

All four deny the charges against them and the trial continues.