Murdered man whose body was dumped in Arlesey lake was kept as family's slave, court hears

A vulnerable man was kept as a slave by a family, a murder trial jury heard today (Tuesday). Michael Gilbert was forced to sleep handcuffed to a bed and he was regularly beaten. Family members were said to have enjoyed his humiliation, making it the sub

A "vulnerable" man was kept as a slave by a family, a murder trial jury heard today (Tuesday).

Michael Gilbert was forced to sleep handcuffed to a bed and he was regularly beaten.

Family members were said to have enjoyed his humiliation, making it the subject of a "game show".

Finally, after enduring years of violence at the hands of family members, Mr Gilbert was murdered.


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His body was then dismembered and his head cut off, said prosecutor Stuart Trimmer QC at the start of the trial of six people.

The remains of Mr Gilbert, who was 26 when he died, were then driven to beauty spot the Blue Lagoon at Arlesey where they were submerged in the water.

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The parts were said to have been weighted down with heavy stones from the patio wall of the family's garden.

The jury at Luton Crown Court heard how in May of last year two men walking their dogs beside the lake discovered the headless torso of Mr Gilbert wrapped in a skip bag and close to a wheelbarrow in the water.

Unclipping a strap around the bag, one of the men said there was a "smell of death".

Also inside the bag were Mr Gilbert's left forearm which had been cut off, his severed hands and his lower legs and feet, which had also been removed.

Missing at the time were his knees, right forearm and head. Those parts were discovered earlier this month in the lake, the court heard.

On trial are James Watt, 27, and his 20-year-old brother Robert, both of Chertsey Close, Luton who, together with James Watt's girlfriend Natasha Oldfield, 29, of the same address, and Nichola Roberts, 21, of Burford Close, Luton, all plead not guilty to murdering Michael Gilbert on or about January 21 last year.

Also on trial are the brothers' parents Jennifer Smith-Dennis, 58, and Antonio Watt, both of the same address in Chertsey Close.

They plead not guilty to causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult.

Smith-Dennis denies two further charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Antonio Watt denies one charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Robert Watt, Oldfield and Roberts, who was in a relationship with another Watt brother, also plead not guilty to the alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult.

Oldfield denies two charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and Roberts denies one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Oldfield also denies the charge of assisting an offender.

Mr Trimmer told the jury Mr Gilbert was a vulnerable adult. He was homeless for some part of his life. He was estranged from his own family and was eventually without anyone that had the power to break his bondage to the Watt family.

"He was kept as a slave at the address of the Watt family (then in Marlborough Road, Luton). He was seriously assaulted and threatened to keep him at the address."

Mr Trimmer said that when Mr Gilbert managed to escape, he was forcibly brought back to the house.

And he added: "He was kept amongst other things to take his benefit money. He was abused and assaulted in reality for entertainment."

Some of the beatings that Mr Gilbert suffered were filmed on mobile phones, the court heard.

Case proceeding.

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