Sussex

Crawley torture victim 'lucky to be alive'

A man who was kept captive and tortured has said he is lucky to be alive.

Danny Hopkins, 23, was kept a prisoner for three days in Crawley, West Sussex, where he was beaten, whipped and made to drink bleach.

He waived his right to anonymity and spoke to the BBC after the last two of his seven attackers were jailed last week.

He said: "I once considered them as friends, but now just animals that don't deserve to be on the streets."

Foot broken

During a trial at Hove Crown Court, jurors heard Mr Hopkins was lured to a flat in Ifield in March 2009, then taken to another address in Crawley.

He was abused at both addresses, apparently in revenge for failure to pay rent.

Mr Hopkins, who has since moved away from from the area with his partner and his baby son, said: "It was quite astonishing actually, because it should kill you.

"I was made to drink a small tumbler glass about three quarters full of bleach, and the second time it was watered down, so technically two glasses of bleach, which made me sick straight away otherwise I think it would have killed me.

"I was whipped with a leather whip, beaten with a small thin wooden cane soaked in water.

"It left up to 15 lash marks on my back which they took pictures of on their phone, seemingly making themselves out to be proud of what they've done."

'No chance of escape'

Mr Hopkins, whose attackers had also broken his foot with a claw hammer, stabbed himself five times in the chest because he could not escape.

He said: "I looked at all the doors and all the windows, I couldn't get out, plus there were five people there so I didn't really fancy my chances of escaping effectively and getting far enough to raise the alarm.

Image caption Wibrew and Weller were jailed last week after a trial at Hove Crown Court

"The only option I had was to stab myself - thinking you're either going to die or you're going to cause enough harm to yourself to make them panic."

After he stabbed himself, his attackers then called an ambulance to take him to hospital, making up a story he had been assaulted elsewhere.

In a trial that finished last week at Hove Crown Court, jurors convicted Anna Wibrew, 24, and Simon Weller, 38, of Crawley, of conspiracy to inflict grievous bodily harm and false imprisonment.

Five other people - four women and one man - were jailed in March last year, police said.

Wibrew, of Keir Hardie House in Dalton Close, was jailed for six years. Weller, of the same address, was jailed for five.

Mr Hopkins has set up a support website called Here to Help to help other victims of violent crime.

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