KEY POINTS

  • The couple was sentenced to seven to nine years in prison
  • The victim was tied up and tortured with weapons such as hot iron, lighter and hammer
  • The victim sustained permanent scars on his body

This may be a classic example of biting the hand that feeds you. A homeless couple in Manchester, England, has been sentenced to jail for torturing a man who let them live in his flat.

Michael Rowbotham, 44, and Natalie Wightman, 39, attacked the man with a hot iron, lighter, hammer and knife accusing him of stealing heroin from them.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court recently sentenced Rowbotham to nine years in prison on charges of false imprisonment and assault intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Wightman was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years after she pleaded guilty to the same offenses, reported local news outlet Manchester Evening News.

The victim, whose identity was not revealed, allowed the couple to live in his house in January 2019. The torture began in February when the couple suspected the man had stolen heroin worth around $270 from them. They tied up the victim and assaulted him, causing serious injuries.

His ordeal began on the night of Feb. 13, 2019, when the couple accused the victim of stealing the drugs. "They began pulling at his clothes and then stripped him naked. They tied his feet together with a cable and used a belt to tie his wrists together," Duncan Wilcox, the prosecutor, told the court.

The couple allegedly hit him on the knee caps with a hammer and his left shin was slashed with a knife. He also suffered burns on the soles of his feet and cheeks after the couple attacked him with a hot iron and lighter. He was later locked up in a cupboard for at least an hour. The victim said the torture continued till he admitted to the crime that he had not done.

drug abuse The torture began in February when the couple suspected the man of stealing heroin worth around $270. Photo: pixabay

The victim managed to escape from the house when the couple went to sleep and sought help in a nearby shop. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.

"I have permanent scars on my body and I have a scar on my face which I see every time I look in the mirror. I didn't deserve any of this. They were homeless and I let them stay at my flat and this is how they repaid me," the victim said in a statement, which was read out in the court, reported local news outlet Manchesternews.com.

The victim said he was traumatized by the ordeal and was too scared to go out. He said the permanent marks on his body constantly reminded him of the torture he underwent.

"If anyone needed to be reminded of the impact drug addiction can have, they only need to look at what happened that night. In a home where he should have felt safe, he was subjected to a systematic course of punishment almost reaching a point of torture," Judge Angela Nield said.