Three men from Hove who robbed and assaulted a teenager in a honey trap case have been jailed for a combined total of more than six years.
Balint Besze, 20, of New Church Road, Theo Hallworth, 19, of Marine Avenue, and Reuben Willard, 19, of Hangleton Road, lured their victim to a derelict building in March 2021. They carried out a sustained attack and stole his personal belongings.
At Lewes Crown Court on 15 February, they were each sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment in a young offender institution.
After being left without money or shoes, the victim was able to catch a bus to a friend’s house and report it to police.
The motive for the incident stemmed from an allegation against the victim made by a woman.
Private messages on the victim’s Instagram account suggested this allegation was completely false. The woman relayed this false allegation to her friend Balint Besze.
Besze and his two companions, Hallworth and Willard, hatched a plot to exact revenge on the victim. They admitted their intention to force a confession, instead of establishing if there was any truth to the allegation or reporting it to police.
They formed a vigilante group and one of their female friends persuaded the victim to meet her at a disused car workshop in Newtown Road, Hove.
This woman, now aged 19, spent a week engaging with the victim over social media and successfully lured him to the derelict building.
Once inside, the young man was set upon by the three defendants, who wore boiler suits and masks, using sticks in their attack.
The victim sustained bruising to his back, shoulder, wrist and forearm, and was forced to hand over belongings including his phone and shoes.
The woman was arrested and charged in connection with the incident, but found not fit to plead due to her mental capacity. She was sectioned and reporting restrictions were imposed, meaning she cannot be identified.
Besze, Willard and Hallworth were arrested and charged with false imprisonment and robbery. They all admitted the offences, but claimed they did not use weapons in the attack.
Investigating officer Rose Horan said: "These youths took it upon themselves to act as vigilantes in setting up a honey trap.
"The three defendants, who were of previous good character with bright futures ahead of them, now find themselves in prison for what is probably the biggest mistake they will ever make.
"The whole plot was ill conceived from the start.
"The victim was, and remains, absolutely traumatised by this incident and has shown great patience and maturity throughout the investigation.”
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