Three thugs who tortured a vulnerable teenager for days have escaped prison sentences.
The savages even filmed themselves attacking their 17-year-old victim, who has autism and Asperger's syndrome.
But a judge - following a Government initiative - decided not to jail them and gave out community service orders and curfews. Yesterday, it emerged his court is in one of six areas trialling an "intensive alternative to custody" scheme.
It is aimed at offenders aged 18-25 who would have faced jail terms of less than a year and involves supervision, victim awareness courses and unpaid work. The tortured boy's family last night branded the lenient sentences "a joke" and their MP vowed to petition Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.
Manchester crown court was told that Jack Bolton, Andrew Griffin and Nathan Marshall - all 18 (and pictured) - booted the lad's head, battered him with a tennis racket, scratched his limbs with sandpaper and hurled him down a steep hill.
They pelted him with dog mess and forced alcohol into him till he passed out. They coaxed his dog into simulating a sex act on him and filmed it, yelling, "Are you loving it?" as the boy wept: "No I'm not. Please don't hurt me." Finally, they stuck tape to his genitals then ripped it off.
Their mobile phone film showed all three laughing amid the attacks - carried out over three days at Griffin's house while his parents were on holiday.
The victim has now fled the home where he lived with his aunt - while the torturers he thought were his pals are back on Salford's streets on 12 months' supervision. All admitted assault, which they blamed on being "bored".
Judge Jonathan Geake admitted the attacks were "grotesque" but said he took into account the trio's age, remorse, guilty pleas and the fact they came from decent homes. "I conclude this was a departure from your normal not sensible selves," he said.
The victim's aunt - who moved with him to another part of Britain and cannot be named to protect his identity - said: "The attacks on film lasted days - but this went on for weeks.
"My lad was so scared of these boys he'd lie about his bruises. I realised how serious it was when he came home with a trainer print on his face. "The judge's sentence is a joke and I can't tell my nephew what the sentence was or he'll feel totally let down. This bullying scum have got away with it."
Labour MP Hazel Blears said: "I'm shocked the judge let these thugs walk the streets of my constituency. This is not a just sentence. I am writing of my concerns to the Justice Secretary."
The "custody alternative" scheme is on test in Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, Wales, Merseyside and Humberside.
The Justice Department said: "Serious and prolific offenders should go to jail but simply locking people up because we have no better disposal is a waste of public funds.
"We should use alternative penalties that punish offenders. Community sentences which support rehabilitation will divert offenders from the revolving door of endless short prison sentences."
Friday, October 15, 2010
The Mirror in the UK:
Posted by BA Haller at 3:54 PM