‘It beggars belief what they did to her’

Fraser Gallagher (left) and Derek Buchanan who were sentenced at Preston Crown Court.

Fraser Gallagher (left) and Derek Buchanan who were sentenced at Preston Crown Court.

A gang who tortured a vulnerable woman they kept prisoner in a Blackpool flat for five days, have been jailed.

The 36-year-old victim who is said to have a mental age of a five-year-old was tightly encased between heaters under a table, electrically burned with a taser type gun, tied up, forced to take a cocktail of medication, swallow washing up liquid and cut with a knife, Burnley Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors said the gang even cut her hair and urinated on the victim during her five day ordeal in a flat on Central Drive, Blackpool in August 2012.

The court heard Suzannah Bertram, 32, the tenant of the property was the leader of the gang, which also included Fraser Gallagher, 20, and Derek Buchanan, 18.

Concerns for the victim were raised when she was taken to hospital for stitches for a severe cut to her lip, and had been told to tell medics she had been attacked in the street.

She was then subjected to yet more cruelty and degradation back at the flat, which was below the home she shared with her husband, who had been into hospital after suffering a fit. The victim was eventually found by horrified paramedics in a “very dire state.”

She was very incoherent, injured, wrapped in a dirty duvet and had been lying in dog faeces. The prosecutor had earlier told a court : “It beggars belief what these defendants did to her.”

Suzannah Bertram, the mother “of a number of children” was jailed for four years.

Her accomplices, Fraser Gallagher from Glasgow and Derek Buchanan, of Church Street, Blackpool were also locked up. Gallagher for 42 months and the teenager for 12 months. All had earlier admitted false imprisonment, administering a noxious substance and possessing a prohibited taser gun. Bertram also pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding. The two males were sent to a Young Offenders’ Institution.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting said: “Clearly, at some stage during the course of that week-long period, the victim sustained an injury to her mouth. “

He said Bertram took the victim to hospital, she received stitches and the defendant told her to say her injury had been caused by two girls.

The court heard when the victim returned to the flat, she was made to go under the table again and one of her legs was tied up with cord.

Mr Haworth added:” The following day, Gallagher zapped her on the arm four times with the taser and cut her hair and Bertram told to take some tablets.”

‘This is a dreadful case’

Defending Gallagher, Brian Williams said: “It does appear it happened in a haze of alcohol and probably drugs, when group mentality took over and these people behaved in an appalling way. When sober, in the cells, he has been nothing but polite. It’s so tragic to see him on what appears to be a slippery slope.”

Sharon Watson, for Bertram, said: “It seems that it’s impossible to explain what would lead three people to behave in the terrible, despicable way that they did towards a lady who had done absolutely nothing to them.”

For Buchanan, Paul Robinson said: “It wasn’t a leading role. He was the youngest of the three people present at the scene.”

Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said: “This incident led to harm in a most cruel manner. This was a dreadful case.”

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