Man jailed for torturing and sexually abusing former teen friend in Belfast wins appeal against sentence
A man jailed for torturing and sexually abusing his former teenage friend in a Belfast flat has won an appeal against his 11-year sentence.
Senior judges cut Darren Fu's term to nine years after ruling that the starting point in the sentencing process was too high.
They also held that a disparity with the six years imposed on an accomplice involved in tying up and humiliating their victim called for a reduction.
Fu, 20, will now serve four and a half years behind bars and a further four and a half years on licence.
He subjected a 17-year-old youth to an ordeal lasting several hours at a flat in the Stranmillis area of the city in May 2014.
The victim was said to have been worried on entering the apartment because Fu had ordered him to sell drugs.
He was attacked almost immediately and subjected to serious degradation. At one point he had a pillowcase put over his head.
The teenager was bound, locked in a cupboard and subjected to several sexual assaults.
He was also threatened with knives, burned with cigarettes and has since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Fu initially made the case that he could not remember what happened as he was taking drugs heavily and not in control of himself at the time.
However, he pleaded guilty to four charges - false imprisonment, rape and two counts of sexual assault.
His co-accused - aged 17 at the time of the attack - admitted six counts including false imprisonment, two counts of sexual assault and attempted rape.
Jailing the pair at Belfast Crown Court in February, a judge branded their actions "sadistic".
Fu challenged his sentence in the Court of Appeal, arguing that the term imposed was manifestly excessive.
Delivering judgment today, Mr Justice Colton pointed out that a starting point taken in the sentencing process should be reserved for the most severe incidents of prolonged rape. He said: "Bad as this case is it, should not fall into the category of a campaign of rape occurring over many years."
Fu's lawyers also claimed the gap between his sentence and the combined three years in prison and three years on licence imposed on his co-accused warranted a reduction.
Agreeing with the disparity argument, Mr Justice Colton noted that both defendants were of similar age and had each participated "fully and enthusiastically".
Ruling that Fu's 11-year term was manifestly excessive, the judge confirmed the appropriate sentence should instead be nine years - half of which will be spent in custody.