THREE men who kidnapped, brutally beat up and tortured another man before trying to extort money from his mother have been jailed.
Luke John Huston, 24, of Allington Place, Handbridge, Chester; Kieran Salkeld, 22, of Llwyn Alun, Hope; and Stevan Sanders, 25, of no fixed abode, all received 12 years in prison for the attack which left Marc Williams, 24, from Huntington, with a broken leg and a face so swollen from bruising he was “barely recognisable”.
Huston received a further 12 months for dangerous driving and Sanders another 12 months for an unrelated drugs offence.
Chester Crown Court was told that the three men plotted to kidnap Mr Williams after they heard a rumour, later found to be untrue, that he had a significant amount of money.
On October 11 at about 11.30pm the victim was eating pizza at his home when his patio doors were smashed by a heavy slab of marble and three men in balaclavas burst in with a sledgehammer.
They sprayed Mr Williams with CS gas and Tasered him before beating him repeatedly while he was on the floor, which left him unconscious.
They then tied their victim up with cable before dragging him to a waiting car and driving to a secluded spot on Acres Lane, near Chester Zoo.
The court heard they then dumped Mr Williams in a freezing cold pond before continuing to beat him while they made threats and demanded to know where his money was.
During the beating a large rock was dropped on Mr Williams’ leg, which caused a fracture, and a shotgun was forced into his mouth with such force it chipped a tooth.
Salkeld then kept guard of Mr Williams while Huston and Sanders went to his mother’s house to try to extort money from her.
They banged on the windows and doors of the house, in Hoole, where Mr Williams’ mother and teenage daughter were.
They threatened to “finish off” Mr Williams and told them to “get the money from under the sink”.
The police were called and the pair were “spooked” by the force helicopter and left the scene without getting any money, the court heard.
Meanwhile, Salkeld left Mr Williams at the scene still tied up.
Mr Williams was able to crawl away from the pond and into the road where a taxi driver found him soaking wet, freezing, covered in blood, almost unrecognisable from the beating he had received and begging for his hands to be untied.
The taxi driver called an ambulance and police went to the scene. Meanwhile, officers had come across a Nissan Almera used during the kidnap and a car chase followed, during which Sanders, who was at the wheel, drove the wrong way up the A55. He narrowly avoided a lorry before the car was stopped.
The two men then got out and attempted to swim the Dee. Huston was arrested when he was at neck height in the river.
Sanders was arrested the next day when he went to Huston’s address.
Salkeld was arrested two weeks later at his girlfriend’s address in Northgate Village, where a CS gas canister was also discovered.
A key was found to a caravan at the Chester Southerly Holiday Park at Marlston-cum-Lache.
The caravan was searched and inside police found a sawn off shotgun and ammunition with Salkeld’s DNA on the gun and saliva on the barrel of the gun which matched that of Mr Williams.
Gareth Roberts, prosecuting, said Huston had no previous convictions for violence but a number for dishonesty and burglary.
He also had an outstanding charge from July 2013 for possession with intent to supply Class B MCAT when he was arrested at the Wakestock Festival on the Llyn Peninsula.
Mr Roberts said Salkeld had a number of previous convictions for violence, including battery in 2006, violent disorder in 2007, causing actual bodily harm in 2008 and causing grievous bodily harm, also in 2008. The court heard Sanders had a number of violence-related offences, including two for battery in 2006 and 2012 and four assaults in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Mr Roberts read from a victim impact statement, which said Mr Williams was having regular flashbacks to the event and painful headaches, had difficulty sleeping and when he did sleep he would wake up sweating every hour due to nightmares.
He said during the assault he recognised Huston’s voice and could not understand why someone he thought was a friend could do that.
Reading from the statement, Mr Roberts said: “I have lost confidence. I thought one of them was a friend of mine.
“If a friend did that to me how can I trust anyone any more?
“I have had to move back in with my mum in case anything else happens to her.”
Robin Boag, for Salkeld, said his client would have a good group of people around him to help him when he gets out of prison and said he had expressed remorse for his actions.
He also said the physical injuries Mr Williams received were not long lasting.
Mr Boag said that Salkeld should receive some credit for changing his plea to guilty on the day of trial.
Desmond Lennon, for Huston, said his client did not have a record of violence but was in debt at the time of the offence.
He also said Huston realised the seriousness of his actions and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
Anna Pope, for Sanders, said although her client had a significant record of violence there was nothing in the same category of offending as this.
She said Sanders had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and had even corrected the court when one of his co defendants was charged with dangerous driving instead of him.
Judge Roger Dutton said the starting point for kidnap and section 18 assault was 15 years but reduced Huston’s and Sanders’ sentences to 10 years for pleading guilty at the first opportunity.
He reduced Salkeld’s to 12 years for pleading guilty at a later stage.
The judge also sentenced Huston and Sanders to a further two years in prison to run consecutively for blackmail and sentenced Salkeld to five years in prison to run concurrently for possession of a firearm.
Sanders received a further 12 months in prison for dangerous driving, was banned from driving for three years and will have to take an extended retest.
Huston was given a further 12 months for the unrelated drug charge.
This means Salkeld was sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison and Huston and Sanders 13 years.
The judge said the crime was “carefully thought out”, which increased the seriousness of it.
He said: “Each of you had heard your victim had got some money. You then decided to embark on a plan. This was a well planned and serious criminal enterprise.
“You put on disguises, were armed with weapons, CS spray and a sawn-off shotgun and a heavy lump-hammer.
“He [Mr Williams] was then subjected to the terrifying attack. You showed no mercy to him.
“His face after was almost unrecognisable. He was, frankly, tortured.”