A man who kept someone a virtual prisoner for several months in a squalid bedsit and subjected him to appalling treatment as his lackey has been jailed for over four years.
Mohammed Ballal assaulted the man on an almost daily basis, with a pattern of bullying and violence becoming the norm.
It all arose after the 63-year-old victim was told he could avoid paying any more of his mortgage by transferring his Nelson home to someone else. In the event, he was given just five minutes to pack his bags. He was taken to a pokey bedsit in Fletcher Street, Nelson, and told he would only have to stay there 10 days at most.
But Preston Crown Court heard he ended up spending five months there before managing to escape.
In that time he was subjected to assaults on practically a daily basis and his life ceased to be his own.
Ballal (42), formerly of Southfield Street, Nelson, had admitted charges of false imprisonment, fraud and two offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, all of which occurred last year.
The court heard Ballal got to know his victim after a friend began using the man’s Nelson home to drink. Others also began using the premises.
Mr Paul McDonald (prosecuting) said a suggestion was made to the man that he could avoid paying anything more on his mortgage by transferring his home to one of those people. He would then be able to live there rent free.
The man did not find the idea unappealing, but wanted to do things properly, through a solicitor.
Then, one day last summer, out of the blue, he was told he had five minutes to pack his things. He was told he would stay elsewhere for five to 10 days, but not told where he was going.
The man was taken in a vehicle to a squalid bedsit in Fletcher Street where Ballal had an office in that building.
The victim thought he was living there rent free, but events took a sinister turn, said Mr McDonald, when he was told there had been a delay and he would not be able to return home until September.
Mr McDonald said: “His life changed somewhat dramatically. His freedom of movement was severely restricted by the defendant who used bullying and violence towards him to enforce his will.
“He was hit at least once a day, usually for a minor ‘fault’ or trivial ‘complaint’. He became conditioned to accept it as a way of life.
“The defendant seemed to enjoy administering such punishment”.
The man had to act as his chauffeur and household lackey. He was assaulted over domestic issues, such as drying washing over a radiator or using the bathroom when he shouldn’t.
He was forced to hand over money and his mail was intercepted. On one occasion, he was threatened with a large piece of concrete held over his head after he had been pushed to the floor.
“He speaks of being throttled, punched in the stomach and neck, poked in the eye, punched in the face and kicked in the shins and between his legs”.
Ballal had induced the male to buy a £22,000 Peugeot sports car. The defendant himself paid a deposit on it.
Last November, after accusing his victim of lying to him, he delivered two kicks to his chest and swung a punch at him.
And, while driving back from an Asian restaurant in Manchester, he repeatedly hit him with a Coca Cola bottle.
Finally, at the end of November, the man managed to escape and went to the home of a long-standing friend in a very distressed state.
Mr Michael Blakey (defending) said Ballal had shown remorse through his guilty pleas. The victim had been spared having to give evidence and relive the experience.
The offences had been out of character for him.
He said he had not been the one who told the man to pack his bags, or driven him away. Others had taken him to the bedsit.
Mr Blakey added “He is apologetic. He has learned his lesson.
“He has had time to reflect upon his behaviour and recognises what he did was wrong. He would like the man to know he apologises through me directly to him.
“There will be no more offending as far as the defendant is concerned”.
Judge Ian Leeming QC called the course of conduct “disgraceful and brutal”.
“There was almost daily insults, degradations and frequent assaults. He had to do everything you demanded of him by way of service”.
Ballal was given 50 months prison and made the subject of a restraining order, regarding his victim, without limit of time.