By JR on Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Five members of a gang [below] who stripped a 16-year-old girl in a park then posted the pictures on Facebook have been jailed for a total of 18 and a half years.
The nude photographs were taken by Victoria Beckford, 27, and Siobhan Vaughan, 29, who added them to the teenager's profile page on the social networking website.
The shocking images, taken in Crystal Palace park, south London, were spotted by friends and family who contacted the girl's mother.
As the thugs were sentenced it emerged the girl had tried to kill herself two days after she was abducted and subjected to the 'humiliating and degrading' ordeal. Inner London Crown Court heard she then spent two months recovering in the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell, south-east London.
Victoria Beckford, 27, and Siobhan Vaughan, 29, who took the shocking images, were both jailed for four years. Fellow gang members Daniello Johnson and Antonio Williams, both 19, were also sentenced to four years each while Sian Roberts, 24, was caged for two and a half years.
Judge Usha Karu said: 'A vulnerable 16-year-old girl was subjected by each of you to a terrifying ordeal which culminated in her humiliation and degradation. 'This was then distributed on the internet for everyone to see - and unfortunately for you, it was that last act which led to the discovery of what had happened.
'Her humiliation, fear and reluctance must have been obvious to you, yet you persisted, determined to achieve some kind of revenge for a sum of money that amounts to about £50.'
The five defendants had denied the attack but were convicted of false imprisonment in July after a three-week trial.
The victim, who cannot be named, had been taken hostage by the gang as punishment for an unpaid £50 debt. She was locked in a cupboard, punched and whipped with a leather belt during the ordeal on August 14 last year, before being taken to the park and stripped.
The girl had been lured to Brixton, south-west London, believing that a friend was going to remove braids from her hair. Williams and Johnson were waiting for her there. Johnson tied her wrists with a dressing gown cord and demanded her phone and PIN number, then locked her in a cupboard for more than an hour
During that time he slid the blade of a knife through the gap between the doors, before letting her out and beating her with a leather belt.
Roberts, who was owed the cash, then arrived with Beckford. Roberts 'dragged' the 16-year-old to her car and drove her around south London before collecting Vaughan.
With dusk approaching, the group is then said to have headed to a 'poorly lit' corner of Crystal Palace Park, where Beckford ordered the girl to strip, telling her: 'This should teach you a lesson.'
The girl was also offered the alternative punishment of immersing her hands in boiling water, which she said she would prefer. But her tormentors decided they did not want to 'leave visible marks' and forced her to undress.
Mr Polnay said: 'She removed the entire top half of her clothes, but this was not enough for the defendants - and both Victoria Beckford and Siobhan Vaughan demanded that she remove the entire bottom half. 'She was now completely naked, and Victoria Beckford and Siobhan Vaughan then took out their mobile phones and took photographs.'
Giving evidence, the girl said at one point during her ordeal, Johnson handed a penknife to his one-year-old son and told him to 'get' her.
Asked how he handed the blade to the baby she replied: 'He just gave it to him, handle first, and he walked towards me holding the knife.' Mobile phone experts subsequently recovered a deleted copy of the nude photograph on Williams' handset, which had been saved at 8.58pm on August 14, the court heard.
Williams and Johnson were arrested on August 17 and Roberts and Beckford were arrested six days later. Vaughan was arrested on September 20.
Johnson, of no fixed address; Williams, of Thornton Heath, south London; Roberts, of Bromley, Kent; Beckford, of Gypsy Hill, south London and Vaughan, of Croydon, and the 17-year-old, of West Norwood, south London, were convicted of false imprisonment.
Beckford and Vaughan were also found guilty of one count of making an indecent image of a child.
Speaking after the case Police Constable Andrew Birks, from the Lambeth police CID said: 'This is a horrific case where the victim was subjected to hours of abuse, assault and humiliation by five defendants who when arrested told police a string of lies to try and conceal their involvement.
'Through the bravery of that child, the jury has been able to recognise the truth behind the events of that day and to reach the verdicts that they have.
'The events themselves left a traumatic mark on her life, made worse by having to appear in court and relive them because these defendants continued their trail of deceit.'