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26 June 2014, 17:12
A gang jailed for kidnapping a university student who believed he was going to die during his "horrendous'' ordeal have had their sentences increased.
Three Court of Appeal judges in London ruled that the terms handed to the four young men in April at Lewes Crown Court in East Sussex were all "unduly lenient''.
Ringleader Sam Simon, 21, had the custodial part of an extended sentence for false imprisonment raised from six to 10 years, while the four years detention being served by his brother Alex, 18, was quashed and replaced with seven years.
Muhammet Yalcin, 20, had his sentence of five years detention for false imprisonment upped to eight years.
Artur Oganesyan, 23, will now have to serve four years imprisonment rather than the original two years imposed on him.
The appeal judges heard that at the time of the attack the 21-year-old victim Ben Hutchings-Mitchell was a student at Brighton University living in Hastings.
During the incident at a flat in East Street, Hastings, he was bound, attacked with a hammer and threatened with rape.
He was also taken by car to an isolated wooded area where demands for money continued.
Announcing the decision to raise the sentences, Lord Justice Davis said: "There were here a number of significant aggravating factors.
"The incident was prolonged and sustained.
"A group of people were involved.
"Threats of an extreme kind were made during the course of the false imprisonment, not only that the victim would be killed, but that he would be raped.''
He was "very seriously and gratuitously assaulted'', including having his face struck several times with a hammer, and there was "significant degrading conduct involved''.
Lord Justice Davis said the sentencing judge had "quite rightly'' described the offending as "horrendous''.
He said that "given all the circumstances we are in no doubt that this court must interfere'' with the sentences which were ``not simply lenient, but unduly lenient''.
Oganesyan did not participate in the violence or threats, said the judge, but he played an important role as driver.
Speaking after the ruling, Solicitor General Oliver Heald, who referred the case to the Court of Appeal for review, said: ``What happened to Mr Hutchings-Mitchell was nothing less than a terrifying ordeal.
"For three hours he suffered threats, sustained blows from a hammer, and was placed on top of a body bag.
"He was certain he was going to die.
"I asked the Court of Appeal to look again at these sentences as I felt the level of violence and fear that the victim was subjected to merited a higher prison term, and I am satisfied that these increased terms reflect the appalling nature of the attack.''
Sam Simon had pleaded guilty to false imprisonment while the others were convicted.
As well as his new sentence of 10 years custody with an extended licence period of four years for that offence, he also has to serve an additional three years for drugs offences.