Unmoved, they watched their crime replayed

Sentencing of brothers who admit torture begins with video of attack on young victims
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The Independent Online

The television screen in Court No 8 showed the face of a young boy, covered in blood. As the video camera panned out, the grainy mobile phone footage revealed he was wearing just a jumper and underpants. He was trying to shield himself with his arms from repeated punches to the head, while crying out in pain.

The clip lasted for less than 20 seconds – but it was long enough. Family members broke down in tears and there were gasps from the public gallery as the film was played. It was, in the unsentimental words of the prosecutor, "upsetting to view".

The video was taken by one of two brothers, aged 11 and 10, who yesterday appeared in court to be sentenced for the hour-and-a-half of abuse and torture they inflicted on the two other schoolboys.

The attacks happened in the village of Edlington, South Yorkshire, in April last year when the defendants lured their victims, then aged 11 and nine, to wasteland before attacking them. The brothers, both with cropped dark hair, wearing shirts and ties and flanked by social workers, showed no emotion in court as the footage was played.

The video was part of the opening of a three-day sentencing hearing at Sheffield Crown Court after the brothers, who cannot be named because of their ages, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm, robbery and sexual offences.

The court was told that the older brother has four previous convictions for assault and battery and that his younger brother was given a reprimand, days before the attacks, for another assault.

Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, said the brothers had admitted two separate attacks, which occurred within a week of each other. The first was on Saturday 28 March when the brothers lured a 12-year-old boy to a beauty spot known as Brickyard Pond, telling him they were going to see a "massive toad".

They then stamped on his head and punched him in the face before demanding his grandmother's address, telling him: "We're gonna kill her." The attack stopped when they were interrupted by a passing man. Mr Campbell went on to explain that, after bragging to a local girl about the attack, the brothers were tracked down by the police and arrangements were made for them to be interviewed on Saturday 4 April.

But on that day the pair ran out of their foster parents' house and, rather than going to the police station, carried out the more serious attack. Again the pair lured their victims to Brickyard Pond with the promise of seeing wildlife, this time they said they would show the boys a dead fox. Instead, the victims – the elder of whom was the younger's uncle – were robbed. One had his mobile phone taken, the other had the £4 pocket money he had been given that day stolen.

Then they were attacked. Mr Campbell described it as: "Both physically painful and emotionally traumatic; it was frightening; in addition, what they endured was humiliating and embarrassing."

First they were made to eat nettles and dirt. Then they had shards of glass scratched against their throats. When the victims complained, they were told: "We're gonna kill you and we're gonna kill the rest of your family if you don't shut up.

Worried that passers-by might hear or see what was happening the brothers then moved their victims to a more secluded part of the woodland. There, bricks and stones were thrown at the boys.

The youngest victim had a sharp stick poked into his arm and then had a burning cigarette pushed into the wound. It was during these attacks that the older brother filmed his sibling.

The makeshift weapons used during the ordeal were shown to the court. A police officer brought sticks and stones into the courtroom to present to the judge. A 13kg stone which was dropped on one boy's head was brought in in a box. It was so heavy that the male detective struggled to carry it.

As well as enduring physical attacks, the victims were forced to engage in sexual acts. At one point, the nine-year-old victim stabbed himself in the mouth with a stick so as to give his attackers the impression that he was trying to kill himself. He then slumped against a tree pretending to be dead, to avoid further attacks.

The boys only escaped when the brothers realised they were late for an appointment with their father. The court was told that the younger brother had said: "We have to meet dad now," to which his brother replied: "One minute. I need to kill them both, because they might grass on us.

The younger victim later told the police that as the brothers left they had shouted: "You'd better stay there and don't move, cos we'll come back and finish you off."