VILLAGERS in Dickleburgh, Norfolk, yesterday welcomed the news that the teenage 'trouble-maker' at the centre of a furore over the jailing of two men is to leave the village.
Gavin Last, 17, who is unemployed, said he was moving into a mobile home in nearby Diss because he had been threatened with violence and was 'fed up with being treated like a criminal'.
Villagers are outraged that two 'honest and decent' local men, Duncan Bond and Mark Chapman, have been jailed for five years for trying to frighten Gavin, whom they suspected of theft and vandalism.
A week ago in Norwich Crown Court, Bond, 35, a builder from Harleston and Chapman, 29, an engineer from Horham, admitted kidnapping and threatening Gavin in January. The court was told that the pair took the law into their own hands after mini-motorcycles Bond had bought for his sons were stolen.
The theft was the latest in a series of break-ins near Dickleburgh. The defence said that Gavin was part of a gang of trouble-makers and Bond and Chapman believed that he had information about the theft.
After tracking him to his home, they bundled him into their van and threatened him with a knife. He was dumped unharmed 20 minutes later.
Locals blame Gavin and others for a crime wave which, they say, has destroyed traditional rural life. Gavin admits stealing cars and shoplifting in the past but insists that he is a reformed character.
Carl Roe, 53, the village shopkeeper who has suffered eight break-ins in the past 10 years, said: 'These Herberts have been causing so much trouble round here. Gavin's going is not before time. If his cronies go with him we will be the happiest village in the kingdom.'
Frank Bullingham, 68, a retired factory worker, added: 'He had to go. If he had stayed, someone would have really done him in one night. I have never known anything like the problems we have had in the last few years.' Gavin said he had received anonymous threats that his legs would be broken. 'I am totally frustrated and upset. I am the victim - I was the one who was kidnapped - and I am being treated terribly. I'd like to stay here, it's my home, I like it. But I just can't stand it anymore with everyone gossiping and blaming me for things I haven't done. It's doing me in.'
Last night Gavin signed a petition calling for an immediate review of the sentences. 'What they did was out of order and they should pay for it. But five years is too long. It should be one or two years,' he said. MPs have raised the case with the attorney general and the Lord Chancellor.
On Monday night more than 500 people from towns and villages in the area and as far away as Kent and Dorset, pledged to raise pounds 10,000 to fight for the release of the two men.
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