Brothers threatened to kill young victims

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Two brothers attacked two young boys by punching them, forcing them to eat nettles, running broken glass across their throats and threatening to kill them, a judge heard today.

A court was told the victims - then aged nine and 11 - were lured from a recreation ground in Edlington, South Yorkshire, by the brothers, who were 10 and 11 at the time.

Nicholas Campbell QC told Sheffield Crown Court: "(The elder brother) then put (the elder victim) to the ground and tried to choke him so that he could neither talk nor breathe.

"(The elder victim) feigned unconsciouness but then managed to kick out at (him), connecting with his leg.

"(The elder bother) punched him in the nose, which started to bleed.

"(The younger brother) was laughing at this."

The prosecutor then said: "(The younger brother) was also put to the ground and both boys were forced to eat nettles and dirt.

"At some stage, shards of glass from a broken beer bottle left lying about were held against both their throats and scratched along the flesh."

Last September the brothers admitted causing their victims grievous bodily harm with intent.

They denied a more serious charge of attempted murder but the prosecution accepted their pleas and said there would be no trial.

As well as the central charges of GBH with intent, each of the brothers pleaded guilty to robbing one of the boys of a mobile phone and the other of cash.

They admitted two counts of intentionally causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

The brothers also admitted causing another 11-year-old actual bodily harm a week before the young boys were attacked.

The brothers, who are now aged 11 and 12, are appearing before Mr Justice Keith, who is beginning a sentencing exercise which is expected to finish on Friday.

Mr Campbell told the court the brothers took hold of their victims and dragged them through a gap in a fence, while threatening to kill them.

The barrister said: "The brothers continued the threats, this time saying 'We're gonna kill you and we're gonna kill the rest of your family if you don't shut up'."

During the attack, the older brother focused his attention on the older victim, while the younger brother targeted the younger of the two boys.

Mr Campbell said: "But the prosecution say that they were acting as a team from the beginning to the end, lending support and encouraging one another in their plan."

As details of the attacks were read to the court, the boys sat at the back of the courtroom, flanked by care workers and watched by members of the victims' families from the public gallery.

The elder of the two boys wore a dark suit and tie with a white shirt, while the younger wore a blue shirt and tie.

The judge and barristers appeared in court without gowns or wigs as part of special arrangements put in place to make the proceedings less intimidating for the two defendants.

Mr Campbell said the victims, who are uncle and nephew, were subjected to an assault which was "both physically painful and emotionally traumatic - it was frightening".

"In addition, what they endured was humiliating and embarrassing."

He said the boys set out on Saturday April 4 with their BMX bikes and their dog.

They were approached by the brothers after they went to a shop to buy sweets and an Irn Bru drink, the court heard.

The brothers, whom they had met before, asked to use their bikes.

They then asked their victims if they wanted to go and see a dead fox.

Mr Campbell said: "Once concealed in the trees, the brothers told (the boys) that they were going to kill them."

When the intimidated boys asked why, the prosecutor said, they were told it was because they had led the brothers' grandmother to have a heart attack and die.

Mr Campbell said this was, of course, not true.

The court heard that the boys were taken to an area concealed from passers-by by vegetation and a large pile of broken branches, which had been loosely constructed to form a den.

As they were being taken down a slope to the area, the older victim became stuck on barbed wire, which cut into his shoulder. The younger boy was later pushed up against the wire, which was used again later in the attack.

Mr Campbell said the attack became more serious as both the victims were put to the ground at the bottom of the slope and both boys were stamped on.

The brothers collected bricks and stones, which were thrown at the heads of the two boys.

Mr Campbell said: "Some were too heavy for such children as (the brothers) to throw and they were lifted and carried to and dropped on to (the victims)."

Broken tree branches were used to strike the boys and the younger of the two victims received a deep wound to his forearm arm from the use of the sharpened end of a stick.

Police who searched the scene later found a great deal of blood and many blood-stained items.