Pair jailed for 'Dark Ages' murder of vulnerable man
Two people have been jailed for life for murdering a vulnerable man who was tortured for months and forced to eat his own testicle.
Jimmy Prout, 45, was found dead on wasteland near his home in North Shields on 27 March 2016.
A Newcastle Crown Court trial heard he suffered "Dark Ages" abuse at the hands of a group he thought of as friends.
Ringleader Zahid Zaman, 43, was told he must serve a minimum term of 33 years and Ann Corbett, 26, at least 27 years.
Kay Rayworth, 56, and Myra Wood, 45, of North Shields, were also jailed for causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable man.
Rayworth was sentenced to 12 years and four months and Wood for nine years.
Zaman, a wheelchair user, was branded as an "evil, vindictive, manipulative and devious man", by Mr Justice Dove, who accused him of scouring the internet and local soup kitchens to find vulnerable people he could control before coming across Mr Prout and making him his "skivvy".
All four had previously admitted a further count of perverting the course of justice.
During the seven-week trial, the court heard the group of five, including Mr Prout, had a strange relationship which had developed an almost "cultish dimension".
The jury were told Ann Corbett had shared a bedroom with Mr Prout and would have seen the suffering he endured and even watched him die, but did nothing to stop it.
The court heard that a series of events in late 2015 created tensions that led to a number of serious assaults against Mr Prout, which included him having his teeth knocked out with hand tools.
After Mr Prout's body had been dumped, the court was told the group then set about covering their tracks by pretending to look for him and asking others to help.
Zaman was described as "vengeful and controlling" and was determined to get revenge on Mr Prout who he believed had been involved in stealing from him.
Mr Justice Dove said words could not to do justice to the brutality Mr Prout endured or how they all had betrayed him, saying "what he suffered was beyond imagining".
He added the case involved the "sadistic torture of a vulnerable victim" which was "designed to inflict excruciating pain" and "monstrous violence".
The jury was shown CCTV images, often taken from cameras on Zaman's house, of the worsening condition of Mr Prout as the assaults continued, some of which showed him clearly unsteady on his feet and being pushed along the street.
Det Ch Insp Andy Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police, said: "This truly has been one of the most awful cases I have dealt with.
"The way these people treated this man was abhorrent. He was brutally tortured by these people who were supposed to be his friends. It's hard to believe that a human being could have been treated in this way."
He said a domestic homicide review, involving several agencies including the Northumbria force, was now under way into the circumstances surrounding Mr Prout's death.
Mr Prout's brother Edward said: "I buried my brother Jimmy on my birthday last year and it was one of the hardest things I've had to do. My brother was my best pal and by killing Jimmy, they have killed part of me.
"The officers in the case have been great and I would like to thank them for everything. Now it is time for us to fully grieve in peace and move on with our lives."