Men Jailed For Torturing Portsmouth Student
11 October 2013, 19:00 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50
Two drug dealers who were obsessed with watching gangster movies have been jailed for a combined total of 33 years after they enslaved a graphic design student and repeatedly and ruthlessly tortured him to force him to carry out tasks for them.
Roy Sawyers and Carlos Wilmot, both 23, poured boiling water on to Nathaniel Smith's body and groin, scalded him with a hot iron and used a blowtorch on his neck during a series of attacks on the 21-year-old student who played the piano for his church.
The defendants were obsessed by gangster films and were inspired by the violence used in them, according to police.
Wilmot and Sawyers, originally from London, pleaded guilty to a series of offences including false imprisonment and causing grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm as well as supplying class A and B drugs.
Sawyers also attacked a second student, Sean McGrath.
Judge Ian Pearson sentenced Wilmot at Portsmouth Crown Court to 16 years' imprisonment with an extended period of four years because he deemed him a dangerous offender at risk of re-offending.
Sawyers was jailed for 13 years.
Sentencing them, Judge Pearson said:
"You exploited and bullied two relatively young, inoffensive, timid students.
"That bullying and intimidation continued with a course of conduct that can only be described as torture.''
He continued: "This was a gratuitous degradation, there is absolutely no reason for you to continue assaulting him in the way you did.''
Rob Welling, prosecuting, said that Mr Smith was a "family man'' who had come from London to study at the University of Portsmouth when he became coerced into acting for Wilmot as well as Sawyers, who was studying for a human resources degree at the time of the attacks.
Mr Welling described how Wilmot had moved into Mr Smith's room in a university hall of residence and refused to leave unless he did his bidding and act as a drugs runner for the two defendants.
He added that if Mr Smith did anything to displease the two men then he would be "ruthlessly'' attacked.
He said: "Nathaniel Smith had effectively become enslaved by both Mr Sawyers and Mr Wilmot, drawn into dealing their class A drugs for them.
"He was beaten ruthlessly for any perceived slights on his behalf to them.''
Mr Welling said that on one occasion Mr Smith was choked with a belt until he blacked out and was regularly whipped with industrial wires which the defendants described as their "everyday weapon''.
On another occasion, Mr Smith was hit on the shins with golf clubs until they broke and he also had his jaw broken and his eyelid torn when he was kicked and had his head stamped on.
The defendants also prevented Mr Smith from returning to his family for his birthday as part of their bid to control him "socially and financially'', according to Mr Welling.
Mr Smith was most savagely attacked on July 4, 2012, when he failed to beat up another man, Mr McGrath, at the request of the defendants.
The court heard that the defendants stripped Mr Smith, poured boiling hot water on his groin before putting an iron to his arm at which point Mr Smith passed out.
He was found half-naked in the front garden of a neighbouring house in such a bad state that the woman who found him thought that he had had petrol poured on him and set alight.
Mr Smith was taken to a specialist burns unit at Salisbury District Hospital.
Mr Welling said that Mr Smith suffered post traumatic amnesia after the final incident and lost his memory of an entire week.
He added: "This has had a continuing and and lasting effect on Nathaniel Smith.
"He still has a number of physical scars, he feels self-conscious about having his hair short because of the scars on the back.
"He still has issues with memory, still lacks confidence, he is too scared to go out socially.''
He added that Mr Smith was now restarting his degree at a university closer to his London home.