Four friends who kidnapped a British public alumnus in Italy and kept him chained to a stepladder in a bizarre £6,000 ransom plot have been found guilty.
Sam Demile Camps, 26, he was found last year after police traced his mobile phone to a dirty flat where he had been fed leftovers for eight days.
Officers were alerted after he texted his family in the UK and told them he was being tortured and beaten by the group, who said they would not release him unless he paid them.
British detectives alerted their counterparts in Italy and Mr Demilecamps was found in an apartment in Monte San Giusto, near Ancona, after his phone signal was traced.
Sam Demilecamps, 26, was found last year after police traced his mobile phone to a dirty flat where he had been given food scraps for eight days.
In a closed-door hearing in Florence, prosecutor Antonino Nastase laid out the facts of the case against Rubens Beliga Gnaga, 19, Ahemd Rajraji, 22, Dona Conte, 23, and his girlfriend Aurora Carpani, 21.
He demanded jail terms of between eight and 10 years for the gang, describing Mr Demilcamp’s ordeal as “horrifying and traumatic”.
The group was detained just hours after the caller was traced and charged at a preliminary hearing last October, where they opted for an expedited trial.
At that hearing, Mr Demilecamps, who was educated at Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire worth £36,000 a year, told the court that he had been kidnapped 200 miles away in Florence while staying at a hostel.
He said he was put in a van and taken to Monte San Giusto, and describing his abduction he said: ‘My captors had seen me spend lavishly. They kicked and punched me, used a taser and pepper spray, then dragged me to a car and gave me tranquilizers.
They took me to Monte San Giusto. They held me underwater in a bathroom and beat me.
At that hearing, Mr Demilecamps, who was educated at Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire for £36,000 a year, told the court that he had been kidnapped 200 miles away in Florence while staying at a hostel.
He added that he had sent text messages to family and friends asking them to send him money as quickly as possible, but instead his divorced parents, Patrick Demilcamps and Jalaleh McCall, alerted the police and the plot was foiled.
But just days later, eyebrows were raised after footage of him partying with his alleged kidnappers emerged with some claiming it all may have been part of a plot to extort money from his unsuspecting family.
This was fueled after it emerged that he knew the four kidnappers well after spending much of the summer of 2021 in the company of the gang.
Rajraji even had a video of Mr. Demilecamps jumping off rocks into a river with the group, apparently nothing worse. After the one-day case on Monday, Judge Federico Zampoli sentenced Rajraji to eight years, Conte and Gnaga to five years and two months and Carpani to three years and three months.
However, none of the gang members will go to jail immediately and will serve their sentences under house arrest until an automatic appeal is considered next year.
Michele Zuccaro, who represented Mr Demilecamps, told MailOnline: “I have spoken to Sam and he is delighted that the court system has ruled in his favor and the gang has been convicted.”
He went through a very traumatic and shocking experience and is still suffering from the effects now over a year later.
It emerged that Mr. Demilecamps knew the four kidnappers well after spending much of the summer of 2021 in the company of the gang.
‘The evidence presented in court consisted of the mobile phone message between the gang that showed them planning and carrying out the kidnapping.
“Sam is relieved that the court believed him because the defense strategy was to suggest that this was all a plot hatched with his help when it clearly wasn’t and he was an innocent victim all along.”
Vando Scheggia, Rajraji’s lawyer, spoke for the four, telling MailOnline: “As we have always said, this was not a kidnapping plot and my client and the other defendant deny the charges against them.
“They all knew each other and we’ve shown how they knew each other, Mr Demilecamps bragged about how rich he was but he didn’t really have much.” He was on the floor of his own free will and was not tortured or beaten.
The former boarding school student, who describes himself as an “adrenaline junkie”, has needed emergency help in the past for jumping off a cliff on a dare.
Mr. Demilecamps was rescued after a friend challenged him to jump into the sea from a 180-foot cliff at the resort of Taormina, Sicily, in 2016.
The four of them had lent him money and allowed him to stay in the apartment while he arranged to get them the money he owed them, that’s all, nothing more, this is not a gangster kidnapping, it’s very trivial.
Mr Scheggia added: “Mr Demilecamps was not handcuffed to the stepladder, but had the others handcuff him so that when he sent photos to his family they could see he was in danger and send the money.”
“We will appeal this sentence and the four will serve this initial period of custody at home, since they are under house arrest.”
It’s not the first time Mr Demilecamps, who lives in Brighton, and a self-described “adrenaline junkie” has made headlines: in 2016 he broke a vertebra after jumping 180ft into the sea from a cliff in Taormina, Sicily, for a bet.