Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

The two victims were subjected to violence during their ordeal and forced to eat dry pasta or scrape leftovers from the bin

A Coventry family who imprisoned a vulnerable mother and her daughter and used them as domestic slaves have been jailed for nearly 50 years.

The two victims were subjected to “sadistic” violence during their ordeal and were forced to eat dry pasta or scrape leftovers from the bin as they were so hungry.

The two women were held captive at a flat in Tile Hill, and another in Wyken, for five weeks in January and February 2016 before an anonymous tip-off led to them being rescued by police.

Jean Kelly was the “ringleader” of the evil family who pulled the strings despite being confined to a wheelchair.

She still, however, carried out some of the attacks using a baseball bat that she had named ‘Bob’.

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 Clockwise, from top left: Anastasia Hitt, Ian Healy, Michael Kelly, Jean Kelly (Image: Paul Beard)

Kelly, 54, of Ferrers Close, Tile Hill, was handed a 14-year sentence having been found guilty of two charges of conspiracy to imprison the mother and daughter, offences under the Modern Slavery Act of requiring the two victims to perform forced or compulsory labour, and inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on the mother.

She was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court – appearing via video link from HMP Peterborough – along with her husband Michael Kelly, her daughter Anastasia Hitt and her partner Ian Healy.

They all admitted assaulting and falsely imprisoning the mother, with the two men also pleading 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.

Michael Kelly, 43, also of Ferrers Close, was jailed for 14 years, as was Healy, 28, of Vincent Wyles House, Wyken,

Hitt, 25, also of Vincent Wyles House, was sentenced to four years and six months behind bars.

Modern day slavery

The mother and daughter’s horrific ordeal began in early 2016 when they were living together at the 27-year-old daughter’s flat on the same floor of a block of flats in Tile Hill as the Kellys.

Jean Kelly was described during her trial as the “guiding word” in keeping the victims as slaves, while Hitt was called a “willing and enthusiastic lieutenant”.

Michael Kelly did not assert the influence his wife did, but locked the mother in her flat when she was not being put to work, and was also responsible for assaults on both women.

Healy also locked the mother in her flat under direction from Jean Kelly and played a part in the brutal assaults.

Often the excuse for the beatings was blaming them for Jean Kelly getting ‘stressed out,’ but things got even worse after she accused the daughter of stealing some money, which she denies.

One of the attacks saw Michael Kelly hit the younger victim with his fists while Jean Kelly struck her with the baseball bat.

The “maltreatment” of the victims also saw them resort to eating dry pasta or leftovers from the bin as they were so hungry.

The court also heard that when the victims were freed from their imprisonment, one of them was suffering so badly from malnutrition that doctors feared she would not be able to eat food in the normal manner due to the treatment of her.

It was also stated that after being freed, the daughter was “so frightened” of the defendants that she “set to blame her mother for her injuries rather than identifying the true culprits. And only when away from the property was she able to unburden herself”.

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 Ian Healy and Anastasia Hitt (Image: Paul Beard)

Victims’ statements

Prosecutor Graham Russell read out impact statements written by the two victims at the hearing at Warwick Crown Court.

The mother stated that she feels “completely changed as a person” due to the crimes committed against her and also suffers from stress and paranoia.

The court heard that she bumped into two of the defendants in Coventry “by chance and just seeing them caused her to go home and break down”.

She also said that her injuries continue to have an “ongoing effect” on her and she believes her eyesight “has been damaged long term”. She also suffers pain from damaged ligaments in her right shoulder when doing “simple tasks such as getting dressed”.

The daughter said in her statement that her captors “ruined her life” and she has regular flashbacks.

The injuries she suffered have also left her in “regular pain” and she now needs the help of a stick to walk.

Jean Kelly and family

Speaking for Jean Kelly, Ian Windridge said that she had never tried to “belittle” or deny what the victims had suffered, but simply argued about her involvement.

Something that the jury chose not to believe.

The court heard that Jean Kelly had a “good relationship” with the victims prior to the offences taking place and she even went on holiday in 2016 with the older victim.

Mr Windridge asked the judge in the case to keep her sentence as “short as possible” stating that due to her deteriorating health she would be a “burden on the prison estate”.

Talbir Singh, speaking for Michael Kelly, said he was “not the controlling mind in this conspiracy or the actions that took place” and had shown remorse that was “authentic”.

He added: “He has not sought to diminish his role in any way. He has wholeheartedly accepted the Crown’s case and not sought to take issue with whatsoever.”

Healy’s representative, Wendy Miller, says his guilty pleas were entered on a basis of him only carrying out four attacks on one of the victims. One of those assaults involved a piece of wood.

Miss Miller said that a psychiatric report states that Healy had a “traumatic and violent childhood” and began suffering from mental health issues at the age of nine.

She also said that Healy “did not actively seek out these defendants” and Jean Kelly “stimulated” his anger by discussing topics such as theft and her own health, before using him to carry out the punishments on the victims.

The court also heard that Healy has had his four children taken out of his care by social services due to his offences in this case.

Anastasia Hitt was “manipulated” throughout her childhood by her mother and this continued when the offences were taking place, said her solicitor Anthony Bell.

He accepted that she would have been able to “resist” her mother’s manipulation at the time of the offences - when she was in her early 20s - more than when she was a child, but said it was a major part of the “background” to the case.

Mr Bell said that Hitt suffers from emotionally unstable personality disorder, as well as having borderline personality disorders.

He added that one expert has said Hitt would benefit from therapy and put forward the prospect of suspending her sentence to allow her to gain help.

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 Jean Kelly and Michael Kelly (Image: Paul Beard)

What did the judge say?

Jailing Kelly, Judge Anthony Potter told her the victims fell foul of a “campaign of abuse that you orchestrated” and he described her as the “ringleader”.

He said she treated them in an “utterly barbaric manner” along with her family members and added: “The fact that human beings in Great Britain can be treated like this by other members of a civilised community is profoundly shocking.”

When he passed sentence on the other three, Judge Potter told them that “all three of you played an active part” in the “barbaric” treatment of the two victims.

He added: “You did not seek to empathise with them. You sought only to exploit them for your own sordid ends.”

Judge Potter said that during the trial Michael Kelly was referred to as a “physical enforcer” and that’s certainly how his wife viewed him.

He told Healy that although he was controlled by the instructions of Jean Kelly, and to a lesser extent Anastasia Hitt, he showed an “enthusiasm” to his role, while he said Hitt was “enthusiastic” about keeping the younger victim imprisoned at her flat as she was a “direct beneficiary” of what was her basically her being used as “free 24-hour childcare”.

Article from: https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/sadistic-coventry-slave-family-jailed-15304124