UK & World News
Vigilante Family Jailed For Torturing Couple
Eleven members of the same family kidnapped, tortured and severely beat two people they wrongly suspected of killing a 75-year-old woman in Norwich.
The family members were sentenced at Norwich Crown Court in what police have described as the worst case of vigilantism ever seen.
The two victims, a man and a woman who was seven months pregnant at the time, were held against their will and beaten by the group. They have been given new identities and cannot be named for legal reasons.
Judge Stephen Holt told the court the group had kidnapped and interrogated their victims in "scenes reminiscent of a Hollywood film".
The attacks took place after Gertrude Frankham, the widow of traveller's rights campaigner Eli Frankham, was found dead in December 2012.
She died in her bed, and the death was ruled to be the result of natural causes.
However, the 11 members of Mrs Frankham's family erroneously believed she had been murdered.
They then kidnapped and interrogated their victims in an attempt to extract confessions to the supposed killing.
Six members of Mrs Frankham's family were found guilty of various offences after a trial earlier this year.
They include Mrs Frankham's daughters Violet Chilton, Sheila Conboy and Valerie Harris, along with some of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Five others admitted their involvement.
The court heard how the two victims were individually dragged to a warehouse and made to sit in a chair as they were surrounded and beaten in April last year.
During the attack on the woman, Conboy called police to say she had confessed to murder.
The male victim was also told that if he went to police his family would be killed while he was forced to watch, the trial heard.
Police seized camcorder footage of one of the beatings - which the attackers had hoped to use to force officers to prosecute the couple for murder.
Speaking after the group was sentenced, Superintendent Dennis Lacey said the case was the worst instance of vigilantism he had ever known.
"Despite there never being any evidence of murder they decided to take the law into their own hands through violence and intimidation," he said.
"In 27 years in the police, I have never seen anything like this in terms of the number of people involved and the seriousness of the assaults.
"Vigilantism cannot be tolerated and the sentences handed down reflect the unnecessary level of violence used."
The family members have been sentenced to terms in jail of between 18 months and 12 years.
Others convicted include Thomas Chilton, Edward Dolan Jnr, Vanessa Frankham, Diane Evans, Jesse Frankham, Laura Ann Dolan, Wayne Dolan and Edward Dolan Snr.