A student has told how he thought he was going to die after being tortured, gagged, stuffed in a body bag and driven to isolated woodland.
Brave Ben Hutchings, speaking exclusively to The Argus after five people were convicted of the attack on him, said “It was terrifying – I couldn’t believe it was happening” after being kidnapped by men wielding hammers.
The University of Brighton journalism undergraduate, who lives in Hastings, told how he was lured to his attackers’ home and told they were going to play the computer game Grand Theft Auto – but when he got there he was beaten with hammers and electricity leads, kicked and punched before being stuffed into the body bag.
They then loaded him into a car and drove him to Brede High Wood where they all discussed burying the student alive before they assaulted him again.
The two-hour ordeal ended when the men took their terrified victim back to Hastings and released him in the street.
He suffered broken teeth, cuts and severe bruises and had to be treated at Conquest Hospital in St Leonards following the attack on September 19 last year.
The 21-year-old also revealed how the men who kidnapped him called his girlfriend while holding a hammer to his head.
They demanded money off her and proceeded to visit the home Mr Hutchings shared with her, so she was terrified.
Speaking after brothers Sam and Alex Simon, Artur Oganesyan, Muham Muhammet "Melik" Yalcin and Jowad Ghemati were convicted in relation to the incident on Friday at Hove Crown Court, Mr Hutchings said: “It was terrifying. I thought I was going to die.
It was like a scene from a movie.
“What was worst is they involved my girlfriend.
“She was so scared.
“They held a hammer to my head and sent someone to her house. They went through my phone and deliberately picked someone they knew I loved.
“My mum was horrified and it caused a lot of stress.
“I was in hospital and the police station for 38 hours afterwards.
“It was really random and truthfully what happened has not sunk in.
“Sam Simon was a sort of friend.
“He’s only a little guy. I felt sorry for him.
“I think he owed money, I think he was panicking.
“But I will get over it. I am very headstrong.
“Everything is doable.”
After the first arrests, Ghemati, even approached Mr Hutchings and offered him thousands of pounds to drop the case.
Detective Sergeant Michael Burnage said: "The suspects attacked the victim because they decided they could get money from him quickly and easily.
"They have shown no remorse for their actions and despite the weight of evidence against them, made the victim relive the horrendous event again in court.”
Sam Simon, 21, of Earl Street, Hastings, Alex Simon, 17, of Earl Street, Hastings, , Yalcin, 20, of Kenilworth Road, St Leonards, Oganesyan, 23, of Stanley Road, Hastings, have all been convicted of false imprisonment.
Ghemati, 27, of Holmhurst Lane, St Leonards, was convicted of witness intimidation.
They were all remanded in custody to be sentenced on April 14.