Citizens warned against taking the law into their own hands

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The Independent Online
VILLAGERS in Dickleburgh, Norfolk, yesterday welcomed the Court of Appeal's decision to quash five-year jail terms imposed on two men who tried to frighten a teenager they suspected of theft and vandalism.

Locals had hoped Duncan Bond and Mark Chapman would be released, but said they were pleased that the sentences had been reduced to six months. Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice, said that although society could not tolerate private vendettas and strong-arm tactics, the men had expressed remorse and were 'utterly respectable'. The sentences were 'far too long'.

Bond, 35, a builder from Harleston, and Chapman, 29, an engineer from Horham, were jailed three weeks ago after admitting kidnapping and threatening Gavin Last, 17. Norwich Crown Court was told that they took the law into their own hands after mini-motorcycles that Bond had bought for his sons were stolen.

The theft last December was the latest in a series of break-ins near Dickleburgh and Bond and Chapman believed Gavin, a local 'troublemaker', had information about it. They bundled him into their van, tied his hands and threatened him with petrol and a knife. Many local people praised the pair as 'heroes' fighting to restore 'traditional rural values' in a village plagued by petty crime.

Carl Roe, the village shopkeeper, said yesterday: 'Everyone is happy at the outcome. We accept that it is wrong to take the law into your own hands but when the police don't seem to take action against these troublemaking herberts, it is no wonder people do.' Mike Logan, the village policeman until his beat was scrapped 10 years ago, added: 'It is about right. You have to expect a custodial sentence for kidnapping.'

Lord Taylor said it was 'tragic' that 'citizens normally of good behaviour' had committed an offence. But, he added, 'individuals taking the law into their own hands, exacting revenge, conducting inquiries by force or intimidation' threatened public order.

Bond's wife, Glynne, said that although with remission the men should be free in September, the sentences were still too long.