Judges increase sentences of kidnap gang

FOUR men who beat a journalism student with a hammer and threatened to bury him alive have had their jail sentences increased at the Court of Appeal.

Sam Simon, 21, invited friend Ben Hutchings, also 21, to play Grand Theft Auto at a house in Hastings, before meting out a ‘horrific and chilling’ attack.

He and brother Alex Simon, 18, with their friend Muhammet Yalcin, 20, tied Mr Hutchings up and gagged him. They then kicked and beat their terrified victim with a hammer during the attack on September 19 last year.

The kidnappers, who were all from Hastings and St Leonards, stuffed him into a body bag, loaded him into a car and were driven to Brede High Wood by 23-year-old Artur Oganesyan. The thugs discussed raping the victim and burying him alive before assaulting him again. They were sentenced to a total of 21 years of imprisonment at Hove Crown Court in April but their ‘unduly lenient’ sentences were yesterday (Thursday)increased by Court of Appeal judges. Sam Simon had his sentence increased from nine years to 13 years in prison with four years extended licence. Alex Simon’s sentence was increased from four years to seven years’ detention. Yalcin’s five-year term was increased to eight years detention while Oganesyan, originally given two years, was sentenced to four years of imprisonment.

Judge Lord Justice Davis said: “We take the view that each of these sentences was not simply lenient but unduly lenient. There were a number of significant aggravating features. The incident was prolonged and sustained, a group of people were involved and threats were made during the course of imprisonment not just that the victim would be killed but also raped. He was seriously assaulted with blows to the face using a hammer. All this was done in circumstances where demands were being made for money.

Lead investigating officer, detective sergeant Mick Burnage, based at Hastings police station, said: “These new sentences are more appropriate to the offence and is what should have been given at the first place.

“The things that were going through the poor bloke’s mind must have been horrendous. It was absolutely awful.”