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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Stripped, taped to chair and tortured by thugs

Thugs tortured a vulnerable man by getting him to strip naked, taping him to a chair and beating him with a pool cue and baseball bat.

Judge Peter Hughes photo
Judge Peter Hughes

He had his face scratched and cash stolen from him during a terrifying and humiliating ordeal that left him bruised and bleeding.

Details of the brutal theft were revealed as the three west Cumbrians who subjected him to the attack were punished for their crimes.

Nathanial Rudd, 25, of Robert Owen Place, Cleator Moor; Paul Woods, 34, of Greens Yard, Cockermouth; and Bethany Percival, 20, of Jefferson Park, Whitehaven, all appeared at Carlisle Crown Court.

All had previously pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm with Rudd also admitting a charge of theft.

Passing sentence Judge Peter Hughes QC said: “He was subjected to what can only be described as gratuitous torture.”

The crime happened at Woods’ home on October 26 last year when a man, referred to in court only as Mr Lawson, went to the property.

He had known Woods for a few weeks and had taken over some lager for them to drink.

Rudd and Percival, who was Woods’ girlfriend at the time, were also at the address.

Kim Whittlestone, prosecuting, said that all three appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and may have been taking drugs.

She said: “Woods and Percival kept disappearing into the bedroom. While they were in the bedroom Rudd accused Mr Lawson of stealing property from him and accused him of stealing money from him.”

Mr Lawson then tried to calm the situation by taking off his jacket and offering Rudd the chance to search it, which he did, stealing £120.

Percival and Woods then returned to the living room.

“He was told to strip, and squat down,” Miss Whittlestone said, adding that all three then humiliated him.

Percival was the first to attack him when she jumped on to him and then scratched his face.

Rudd then hit him on the hands and feet with a baseball bat.

Woods then sat him on a chair and Mr Lawson was taped to it then hit across his body with half a pool cue.

Miss Whittlestone said: “Woods directed what the others should do.”

After the attack, Mr Lawson was untaped and ran to his brother’s home, which was nearby, when he was described as “bloody and crying”.

He was taken to hospital were doctors said he had severe bruising and was bleeding from one eye with another socket swollen.

Miss Whittlestone said: “Mr Lawson could be considered in my opinion a vulnerable man.”

Police were called that night and recovered the money stolen from Mr Lawson.

Elizabeth Muir, representing Rudd, said he had been under “extreme pressure” around the time of the events because of a family situation and had been drinking and using drugs. She added that he had made efforts to deal with his problems while he had been in custody.

Marion Weir, for Woods, said he had had a long-standing drug problem and was now trying to break his habit.

Percival’s defence barrister Greg Hoare said since being released on bail she had found employment and was making efforts to move away from the bad influences in her life following her time in custody.

“If it is possible to say that some good comes out of an incident like this, you might say this was an example.”

Judge Peter Hughes said: “It was an act of assault against that man, it comprised beating him with a pool cue and with a baseball bat, making him strip naked, taping him to a chair.”

He jailed Rudd for 33 months – 32 of which were for the assault and one for the theft. Woods was sent to prison for 27 months.

Percival was given a 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, a 12-month community order and a 15-week curfew meaning she must stay indoors between 8pm and 6am.

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