A group of friends have been found guilty of kidnapping a former public schoolboy in a bid to get his parents to hand over £6,000.
Sam Demilecamps, 26, texted his family in the UK from Italy last year saying he was being beaten and tortured, and would not be freed unless ransom money was paid.
He was found in an apartment at Monte San Giusto, near Ancona, after detectives managed to trace the signal from his phone.
Mr Demilecamps, who was educated at a £36,000 a year Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire, told a closed doors hearing in Florence he had been kidnapped 200 miles away from the flat while staying at the hostel.
‘My captors had seen me spending lavishly,’ he told the court. ‘They kicked and punched me, used a taser and pepper spray, then dragged me into a car and gave me tranquilisers.
‘They drove me to Monte San Giusto. I was held underwater in a bath and beaten.’
Mr Demilecamps was also said to have been handcuffed to a stepladder as part of the kidnap attempt.
His parents, Patrick Demilcamps and Jalaleh McCall, alerted police instead of paying the ransom and the gang were quickly arrested.
Doubt over the plot quickly arose however after it emerged Mr Demilcamps knew his kidnappers well – showing images of him partying and diving with the group over last summer.
But the group were charged at a preliminary hearing last October, where they opted for a fast-track trial which took place for just a day yesterday.
Ahemd Rajraji, 22, was sentenced to eight years in prison; Rubens Beliga Gnaga, 19, and Dona Conte, 23, both received five years and two months; and Conte’s girlfriend Aurora Carpani, 21, received three years and three months.
Michele Zuccaro, who represented Mr Demilecamps, told MailOnline: ‘I have spoken to Sam and he is delighted that the judicial system has found in his favour and the gang have been convicted.
‘He went through a very traumatic and shocking ordeal and is still suffering the effects now more than a year later.
‘The evidence presented to the court consisted of the mobile phone message between the gang which showed them planning and executing the kidnap.
‘Sam is relieved that the court believed him because the defence strategy was to suggest that this was all a plot cooked up with his help when quite clearly it wasn’t and he was all the while an innocent victim.’
Instead of going to prison the gang will first serve their sentences under house arrest until an automatic appeal is considered next year.
Vando Scheggia, Rajraji’s lawyer, told MailOnline on behalf of the group: ‘As we have always said this was no kidnap plot and my client and the other accused all deny the charges against them.
‘They all knew each other and we have shown how they all knew each other, Mr Demilecamps boasted how wealthy he was but really he didn’t have very much. He was in the flat of his own free will and he was not tortured or beaten.
‘He had been lent money by the four and they allowed him to stay in the flat while he arranged to get them the money he owed them – that’s it, nothing more. This isn’t some Mafiosi kidnap, it’s very trivial.’
Mr Demilecamps, who lives in Brighton, previously made headlines in 2016 after breaking his back when he jumped into the sea from a cliff in Taormina, Sicily, for a bet.
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