A COVENTRY family kept a vulnerable mother and daughter prisoners as they forced them to work as domestic slaves, feeding them on just dry pasta and subjecting them to savage beatings – until they were rescued with multiple fractures.
And despite being in a wheelchair, matriarch Jean Kelly was able to swing a baseball bat called Bob at one of the women whose screams could be heard on recordings Kelly’s daughter made.
But she denied two charges of conspiracy to imprison the mother and daughter and offences under the Modern Slavery Act of requiring the two victims to perform forced or compulsory labour.
Kelly (53) of Ferrers Close, Tile Hill, Coventry, also pleaded not guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on the two victims, as well as assaulting them on other occasions.
Following a trial at Warwick Crown Court, she was found guilty of all the charges, with the exception of taking part in inflicting grievous bodily harm on the daughter.
Prosecutor Graham Russell said: “This case concerns the systematic and brutal assault and detention of two women.”
In the early part of last year the mother, aged 45, was living at her 27-year-old daughter’s flat on the same floor of the Tile Hill tower block as the Kellys.
“Jean Kelly is the only defendant in the dock, but she’s not the only person responsible for the appalling treatment.
“Also involved were her husband Michael and her daughter Anastasia Hitt and Ian Healy, who was Anastasia’s partner – but she was the ringleader.”
Michael Kelly (43) of the same address, Hitt (25) and Healy (29) both of Vincent Wyles House, Wyken, Coventry, had all admitted assaulting and falsely imprisoning the mother.
The two men also pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on her and her daughter with intent, and Hitt admitted imprisoning the daughter, keeping her in a state of forced labour.
Following Kelly’s conviction, she was remanded in custody and will be sentenced with the other three next month.
“Jean Kelly, we say, is the guiding word in the detention and forced labour of both of them. She boasted cruelly in phone calls to her daughter about the injuries inflicted on both women. She appeared to glory in their suffering.”
The daughter was detained at Hitt’s home, and Hitt, known as Anna, sought guidance from Kelly about how she should be kept.
Michael Kelly locked the mother in her flat when she was not being put to work, and was also responsible for assaults on both women.
Often the excuse for the beatings was blaming them for Kelly getting ‘stressed out,’ but things got even worse after she accused the daughter of stealing some money, which she denies.
During one incident, Jean Kelly called her husband who started on the daughter with his fists as Jean Kelly hit her with the baseball bat and continued to do so after Michael left, the court heard.
They had the keys to their own flat taken from them, and the daughter was told she would be going to Hitt’s flat to help with the kids, as the mother was kept to work in the Kellys’ flat.
At Hitt and Healy’s, the daughter was expected to feed the dog, do the washing and washing up, change nappies and other tasks, and on Kelly’s say-so, had only uncooked pasta to eat.
During the three weeks she was kept there, she slept on the living room floor, and was allowed one cigarette a night – if she had performed her duties to their satisfaction.
Some of the strongest evidence of the two women’s ordeals was unwittingly provided by Hitt herself – because she had an app on her phone which recorded all conversations.
They discussed the daughter being ‘locked in,’ and Hitt complained about the daughter speaking to a social worker through the letterbox of the flat and telling her she had been locked in.
And after the daughter was caught eating some cake that had been left by one of Hitt’s children and was about to be thrown out, Kelly said she ‘can soon come back here and get knocked out.’
Of one conversation, Mr Russell said: “They’re taking a ghoulish delight in the level of abuse their two prisoners can stand.”
Asked about the beatings, the daughter told the jury: “It was mainly Ian, but Michael would join in, and if he stopped, Jean would join in. I don’t remember how many I had. I was constantly getting booted and punched, booted and punched.”
In another incident Michael Kelly punched her repeatedly ‘like a boxer,’ asking her: “How do you think Jean feels when you stress her out?” And Healy joined the attack, which only ended when Michael had a phone call.
The two women’s ordeals finally ended after an anonymous tip-off which led the police to the flat in Vincent Wyles House where they found the daughter with extensive facial injuries, a fractured breastbone and broken finger.
The mother, who had been locked in, had two fractures to her back, two broken ribs, a wound to her elbow which had become infected and required an operation, she needed a blood transfusion, and there was only one small part of her face not covered in bruises.
The mother said in court: “They would lock me up every night, and then let me out in the morning to help Jean in her flat, and then lock me up again at night. It was all of them, Jean and Michael and Anna and Ian.”