Trio sentenced to a total of nine years for Ballymena wheelie bin attack
Two men and a woman who were involved in imprisoning a naked party-goer in a taped up wheelie bin which was left in a wooded area of Ballymena have been sentenced to a total of nine years.
Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said 22-year old victim Adam Robinson had been left "highly traumatised" and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by the September 2013 ordeal which was designed to "punish, demean or humiliate him."
Appearing in the dock of Belfast Crown Court were Teri Christopher Bernard Lau (28) from Dunclug Park in Ballymena, 28-year old Roddy Patterson from Glendun Drive in the Co Antrim town and 22-year old Paula Wilson, from Main Street in Cullybackey.
Lau and Patterson each admitted assaulting Mr Robinson occasioning him actual bodily harm, and of false imprisonment. Wilson - who at the time of the incident was in a relationship with Lau - admitted aiding and abetting false imprisonment.
While Lau and Patterson were each handed three and a half year sentences, Wilson was given a two-year sentence. All three were informed by the Judge that they would serve half their sentences in prison, with the remaining half spent on licence when they are released.
It is understood that due to time already served, all three will be released from prison soon.
Prior to Mr Robinson being discovered and rescued from the bin by a man walking his dog in Sentry Hill, he had been partying with all three defendants in Lau's Dunclug Park home.
All four were under the influence of drink and drugs, and while Mr Robinson can't remember how and why he ended up in the bin, it was suggested during a previous court hearing that he stripped himself naked and placed himself in the bin before it was wheeled from Lau's home to a nearby shop.
It was whilst in the shop buying mixers that Lau saw the industrial tape, which was then used to secure the lid of the bin with Mr Robinson inside. The bin was then wedged against a tree, and it was the Crown's case that if the dog had not alerted its owner to noise coming from the bin, Mr Robinson may not have been rescued.
Judge Gordon Kerr said that when Mr Robinson was freed from the bin at around 4pm on September 3, 2013 he was naked, covered in sweat, extremely distressed and "clearly disorientated."
The Judge said that after reading victim impact reports, it was clear that Mr Robinson has suffered significantly as a result of his ordeal. The reports indicated that he has had trouble sleeping, had been distressed by the publicity surrounding the incident and is suffering from PTSD.
Regarding the incident itself, Judge Kerr said Mr Robinson would have suffered from sensory deprivation whilst in the bin and he had "no idea why he was abandoned and how long he would be there."
Judge Kerr also spoke of the injuries to the victim which he said could either have been sustained by being punched or kicked, or from the movement of the bin with him inside.
Turning to each of the defendants, Judge Kerr spoke of Patterson's bad record and said that while he was giving him credit for his guilty pleas, it was "inevitable" his role would be discovered.
Wilson, the Judge said, admitted a lesser role and despite initially denying that she remained at the scene when the bin lid was taped down, she has since expressed remorse and described her behaviour as "disgraceful."
Lau, who Judge Kerr said instigated taping the bin lid down by buying the tape and who suggested it was "funny" and a "prank", also came before the court with criminal convictions.
After sentence was passed, all three were taken back in to custody and were led away from the dock just yards from where Mr Robinson sat in the public gallery yards with his parents and brother.