Villagers campaign to free 'decent' men

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The Independent Online
HUNDREDS of villagers from Dickleburgh, Norfolk, met last night to express their anger at 'vindictive' five-year jail sentences imposed on two 'honest and decent' men who tried to frighten a teenager they suspected of theft and vandalism, writes John Arlidge.

More than 500 people - farm labourers, postmen, doctors and teachers from local towns and villages and from as far away as Kent and Dorset - pledged to raise pounds 10,000 to fight for the release of Duncan Bond and Mark Chapman.

Bond, 35, a builder from Harleston, and Chapman, 29, an engineer from Horham, were jailed last Wednesday after admitting kidnapping and threatening 17-year-old Gavin Last. Norwich Crown Court heard that the pair took the law into their own hands after mini-motorcycles that Bond had bought for his sons, Oliver, 10, and Nicholas, aged four, were stolen.

The theft was the latest in a series of break-ins near Dickleburgh. The defence said that Gavin Last was one of a gang of 'troublemakers' and that Bond and Chapman believed he had information about the theft. After tracking him to his home, they bundled him into their van and threatened him. He was released unhurt.

Lawyers for the two men are seeking an early appeal hearing and will apply for bail pending the appeal. A spokesman for John MacGregor, MP for South Norfolk said he was 'deeply concerned' about the sentence and had asked for a transcript of the trial.

Although some locals condemn the two men for over-reacting, most praise them as heroes.