A “sadistic” gang of thugs who tortured a devout Muslim barber during Ramadan by force feeding him fried chick and beer were jailed for 71 years on Friday.
Ringleader Darren “Biggs” Vassell tried to cut off victim Mohammed Mirza’s ear during days of abuse and torture.
Mr Mirza, 35, who had been bundled into a car three days earlier as part of plan by six men to extort money, was beaten with a metal bar and a steam iron before they tried to cut out his tongue.
They tried to make him eat fried chicken when he was fasting during Ramadan and when he asked for water made him drink beer.
Police found Mr Mirza “cowering in a corner” in Vassell’s Uxbridge home last June and the six members of the gang were jailed for 71 years.
Sentencing the gang at the Old Bailey, Judge John Bevan QC told them: “Bullies tend to be cowards and this exhibition of cruelty is a truly shocking example of sadistic behaviour amounting to torture”.
Darren Vassell had forced Mr Mirza into the back of a white Vauxhall van with Derek Johnston, 40, Jamal McLaughlin, 34, and Carlton Rodney, 50, during a shakedown at Kimms Kutts salon in Hounslow, south-west London, last June 18.
Two months earlier Vassell had planted a foot-long package of cannabis at Mr Mirza’s former workplace, Shine Salon in Hounslow, to “give him an excuse” to demand money.
Johnston and McLoughlin bought fried chicken from a KFC in Greenford while Vassell set a £3,500 ransom for Mr Mirza and initiated a three-day torture ordeal during the holy month of Ramadan.
The heartless thug told Mr Mirza he should “eat what they eat” as he chewed on chicken wings in front of the Muslim barber.
Mr Mirza’s friend offered to pay £2,000 for his release, but Vassell ordered Johnston and McLoughlin to drive him to Pepe’s Piri Piri in Greenford where he ordered more chicken and screamed: “You have to eat.”
“It was Ramadan and he was fasting – his head was spinning,” said Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting.
“When Johnston and McLoughlin returned with some KFC fried chicken, they offered some to Mr Mirza.
“Mr Mirza refused, stating that he was fasting.
“Darren Vassell stated that he was kidnapped and he should eat what they eat, and when he was told to. All of the group made threats.”
Vassell locked Mr Mirza in the back of the van overnight where he was forced to urinate into an empty water bottle.
The next day he was thrown into a room at Vassell’s house and suffered brutal torture from which he is yet to fully recover.
Vassell’s brother Marvin Vassell, 40, laughed maniacally as he beat Mr Mirza with a metal bar and left him lying in a pool of blood.
“As blood started pouring up, Darren tried to restrain his brother, though they were both laughing,” said Mr Polnay.
“He could hear a child’s and a woman’s voice. He heard the woman complaining about there being blood all over the flood.”
Aaron Ellis, 22, joined Johnston and the brothers as Mr Mirza was beaten over the head with an iron and left with “gaping wounds” from repeated stabbings.
Vassell, who weighs more than 20 stones, sat on Mr Mirza as Ellis heated a fork on the gas ring and pressed it onto his legs.
Vassell put Mr Mirza in a chair and used a knife to cut his hair and beard and sliced through an inch of his left ear as he tried to cut it off.
That evening Darren and Marvin Vassell tried to cut out Mr Mirza’s tongue, and Darren broke a breadknife as he tried to stab him in the neck.
When he begged for water Marvin Vassell forced him to drink beer.
Mr Polnay said: “Mr Mirza is a Muslim and does not drink alcohol.
“Mr Mirza was forced to drink the beer.
“He described feeling totally violated.”
Police were tipped off by DS Neil Turner who heard a man shouting “get up, get up, get up” from Vassell’s house at 4.34am last June 20.
When police officers stormed the house at 7.30am last 20 June and arrested the brothers, Marvin’s clothes were still stained with Mr Mirza’s blood.
Sentencing the gang Judge John Bevan QC said: “I’m not going to repeat the appalling and disgusting facts as outlined by the Crown.
“Darren Vassell selected Mr Mirza deliberately by effectively planting an amount of cannabis on him, in what became an excuse to exercise your enjoyment of depraved violence.”
Darren Vassell, of Uxbridge, southwest London, was jailed for 18 years after pleading guilty to kidnap, blackmail, two counts of false imprisonment, and causing grievous bodily harm.
His brother Marvin Vassell, of the same address, was jailed for 13 and a half years after pleading guilty to blackmail, false imprisonment, and causing grievous bodily harm.
Johnston, of Hounslow was jailed for 21 years after pleading guilty to kidnap, blackmail, two counts of false imprisonment and causing grievous bodily harm.
Ellis of Hillingdon as jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to false imprisonment and causing grievous bodily harm.
McLaughlin of Shepherds Bush was jailed for six years after being found guilty of kidnap, blackmail and false imprisonment.
Rodney of Ealing was jailed for four years after being found guilty of blackmail, but was cleared of kidnap and false imprisonment.