A VULNERABLE Whitehaven man who was sadistically 'tortured' by people he considered friends as they held him captive later took his own life, a court heard.

The tragic aftermath of the treatment meted out to Sam McMahon, who jumped to his death from a high building in Barrow, was revealed as a Carlisle Crown Court judge sentenced two of his attackers.

A prosecutor had outlined disturbing details of the extreme violence inflicted on Mr McMahon by 36-year-old Dane Eldridge-Dalton and his pal James Martin, 51.

The helpless victim – repeatedly punched, stamped on, and beaten with a golf club – suffered such extensive facial injuries that he was unrecognisable, the court heard. He needed months of hospital treatment and reconstructive facial surgery.

Both defendants admitted intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm on the victim. A third man was cleared of the same charge after a trial.

Prosecutor Kim Whittlestone outlined the facts.

The two defendants first lured Mr McMahon to Martin’s flat at St James Court in Whitehaven on March last year, claiming that wanted to talk about getting some cannabis. Over the next 26 hours, they “tortured” him.

“They tortured him for an extended period of time,” said the prosecutor. The violence was started by Eldridge-Dalton, who had a grudge against Mr McMahon. “He grabbed Mr McMahon by the throat and began punching him,” said Miss Whittlestone.

“Shortly after this, the others became involved.”

After checking their victim’s phone, they noticed he had exchanged messages with a younger female and the men used this as an excuse to inflict further violence, again punching him before Martin, whose nickname was “Psycho”, picked up a golf club and began beating Mr McMahon with that.

The men kicked and stamped on Mr McMahon, delivering blows to his torso and his genital area; and at points hit their victim with the golf club. At one point, one of the men threatened to castrate him with a pair of scissors.

The victim later recalled blacking out several times.

Whenever he tried to leave, the men stopped him.

“He said the attack seemed to be going on for hours; it seemed to never stop,” said Miss Whittlestone.

READ NEXT: Whitehaven man accused in 'torture' case not guilty on all charges

READ NEXT: Accused in Whitehaven 'torture' trial gives his evidence

Mr McMahon’s ordeal ended after the men, who were snorting cocaine, decided they wanted to use methadone that their victim was due to collect from a local pharmacy.

They allowed him to collect his medication, but while Mr McMahon was doing that the pharmacist became so alarmed by his obvious injuries that she alerted the police. Bystanders who saw the victim nearby were also concerned.

One flagged down a passing police car, driven by an officer who knew Mr McMahon, but she confirmed not being able to recognise him, so severe were his facial injuries.

Miss Whittlestone went on to summarise the extensive injuries sustained by the victim: they included multiple facial fractures, including to his jaw, his eye sockets and his cheekbones. His hospital treatment continued until late July.

Miss Whittlestone said Mr McMahon’s mother confirmed that the attack had a “very significant effect” on his mental health. She believes what happened contributed to his death in Barrow on September 9 last year.

The barrister added: “The victim was vulnerable and there was gratuitous degradation. In essence, the offence was extended torture, which began at 6pm on the Friday and continued until the intervention of the police at 8pm on the Saturday.”

Shada Mellor, for Martin, began her mitigation by cautioning the judge to not give too much weight to her client’s nickname, Psycho.

“It was a nickname he received at school and was ironic because he was known to be a timid person,” she said.

After the death of his wife before the offending, Martin had lost his sense of purpose, she said. He went into a downward spiral, using illicit substances and alcohol.

“He tried to take his own life twice,” said the barrister. He wanted to undergo bereavement counselling to cope with the death of his wife but did not yet feel ready to do so. A former electrician, Martin had to give up work because of knee problems.

“He classes himself as someone who is vulnerable,” added Miss Mellor.

Jeff Smith, for Eldridge-Dalton, of Richmond Hill Road, Whitehaven, referred to a letter from his mother to the judge, in which she spoke of her son as he was before he “got involved with drugs and the wrong people.”

He had been a happy “Jack the Lad,” she said.

Having lost his partner and his job, he resorted to using drugs and alcohol.

Judge Nicholas Barker said: “Sam McMahon has sadly since died.

"He was a vulnerable and sensitive man; that is clear from the papers I have read in this case; and also from the statement which his mother has written.

“It’s clear he was a man who was inclined to help others… He was a person who believed in others and who wanted them to believe in him. He was a person, it is clear because of his nature, who was often picked on and taken advantage of.”

When he arrived at Martin’s flat, said the judge, Mr McMahon was subjected to a “sadistic, sustained, and brutal attack. At times, as his attackers paused to take crack cocaine, he huddled in the corner of the flat.

“He was treated by you as if he were an animal,” the judge told the defendants. “He suffered dreadfully because of this attack… He took his own life after this by jumping to his death from a high building.”

Mr McMahon’s mother believes the tragedy was linked to the violence.

Martin's 31 previous offences were dominated by drug crimes, while Eldridge-Dalton’s 32 previous previous offences included multiple examples of violence.

Judge Barker jailed Martin for six years and four months; and he jailed Eldridge-Dalton for six years and ten months. Both men will have to serve two thirds of those terms before they can be released on licence.

Mr McMahon's mother was in the court's public gallery as the case against the two defendant's was outlined. The prosecution and the judge made it clear that there could be no legal basis for linking the violence inflicted on Mr McMahon with his death.