Sheffield family jailed for treating man 'like a dog'

David and Donna Rooke.
David and Donna Rooke were jailed after a vulnerable man was treated like a 'slave'. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

A family who kept a vulnerable man in modern day slavery treated him "like a dog", a judge said today.

Craig Kinsella, who has learning difficulties, was forced to live in a garage where he suffered regular beatings and scavenged for food in bins, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

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

A warning that this report by Neil Connery contains footage of a man being assaulted:

David Rooke, 44, was jailed for six-and-a-half years after he admitted falsely imprisoning and attacking Mr Kinsella.

His son Jamie, 19, admitted affray and counts of causing actual bodily harm. He was jailed for four years.

Rooke's wife Donna, 40, admitted a specimen count of battery. She was sentenced to four months in jail.

The judge said the Rooke family used Craig Kinsella like a 'punchbag' Credit: South Yorkshire Police handout

Judge Kelson told the defendants that Mr Kinsella's will "had been completely broken by the way you treated him":

He [Mr Kinsella] was fed very little - fed by way of food left out.

He was kept hungry. He was constantly beaten and battered.

He was treated horrendously. He was treated like a dog.

The conditions were grotesque and you were just exploiting him.

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

– Judge Peter Kelson QC to David, Jamie and Donna Rooke

The judge called it "absolutely staggering" that this could happen in modern society, adding, "It is almost unbelievable".

He ordered Rooke to pay Mr Kinsella £15,000 that police had found in cash in his home.

David Rooke's mug shot.
David Rooke, 44, was jailed for six-and-a-half years. Credit: South Yorkshire Police handout

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

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

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

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