THEY convinced a man with learning difficulties they were his friend.
But the degrading torrent of mental and physical torture they inflicted on the individual was akin to how ‘guards in a concentration camp’ would treat prisoners.
And at Portsmouth Crown Court the gang of cowardly bullies paid the price for their reign of terror when they were thrown behind bars for a combined total of more than 17 years – leaving one of the group wailing uncontrollably as she was taken down to begin her term of imprisonment.
Katy Whelan clutched her partner and co-defendant Daniel Whelan in disbelief after Judge David Melville QC handed down sentences of two-and-a-half years and four-and-a-half years prison respectively for the pair.
Fellow tormentors Gavin Buckle and Nigel Ives were given six-and-a-half years and four years incarceration for their gruelling and humiliating ordeals on the victim at the Whelans’ Milton Road home in Waterlooville in October 2016.
The gang of bullies had largely denied their part in the sustained torture routinely dished out on the man – treated like a ‘prisoner’ – before being found guilty at an earlier hearing.
But during sentencing, Judge Melville said: ‘They took it upon themselves to act like guards in a concentration camp. It was absolutely brutal.’
He continued: ‘Each one of you played your part and made the victim’s life unbearable with your torture. You punched and kicked him and made him strip and dance in front of a camera.
‘You forced him to drink urine with pubic hairs in it and made him drink vinegar and threw bleach over him. It was brutal cruelty that is hard to imagine.’
Other disturbing deeds inflicted included threatening to ‘chop him up and feed him to pigs’, threatening to put him in a body bag and throw him over a balcony, forcing him to put his hand into a snake cage and exploiting him for money.
Buckle, 30, of Chandlers Close, Isle of Wight and Daniel Whelan, 25, were sentenced for administering poison, assault and causing fear of violence, with the former also sentenced for making a threat to kill.
Katy Whelan, 22, was sentenced for causing the victim to fear violence while Ives, 28, of Chaucer Close, Waterlooville, was imprisoned for assault, threatening to kill and putting a person in fear of violence.