Teenagers jailed for 'disgusting' torture of family

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Two teenagers who subjected a defenceless family with learning difficulties to degrading and sexual torture were incarcerated yesterday by a judge who described it as the most "revolting and disgusting" case of his career.

Judge Michael Coombe took the unusual step of lifting a ban on naming the two torturers, both juveniles, after berating the "failing criminal justice system" for limiting his powers of sentence to a maximum of two years.

"Their neighbours should know their names," said Judge Coombe, adding: "I find it impossible to believe anyone in the human race could behave like that."

Wayne March and Nicholas Cooper, both 17, along with 18-year-old Robert Davenport, the Old Bailey court heard, forced the family to endure a string of depraved acts for their own "amusement".

Detective Inspector Charles King, who led the investigation, said even the most experienced detectives had been disturbed by the case. "In my view it is just an unimaginable horror what went on in that flat. The smell, the screaming, the father crying in pain," he said.

An earlier trial heard how the three teenagers tormented the father, 43, mother, 38, and their daughters, 11 and eight, all with learning disabilities, for several hours in their flat in Feltham, Middlesex. The trio focused their attacks on the father by forcing him to eat and drink their urine and faeces at knifepoint until he was sick.

The family of four had curry powder and kitchen cleaner rubbed into their eyes. The mother and father were made to perform sexual acts on each other in front of their children as their attackers took it in turns to slash him with kitchen knives while laughing.

Defendants under the age of 18 cannot qualify for terms greater than two years unless they commit offences, which for an adult qualify for 14 years.

Judge Coombe described it as an "appalling inhibition of a judge's power," adding: "Discretion is being taken more and more from the judge when it comes to sentencing.

"The maximum I can impose is a 24 month detention and training order. So the totality for a particularly wicked crime is only two years. The public must think the criminal system is failing when this occurs," he said.