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Three men from Hove who robbed and assaulted a teenager in a honey trap case have been jailed for a total of 81 months.
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 where they carried out a sustained attack and stole his personal belongings.
Following the incident, the victim, without money or shoes, was able to catch a bus to a friend’s house and report it to police.
The motive for the incident stemmed from a spurious allegation against the victim made by a woman. Private messages on the victim’s Instagram account supported the case that 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, on the afternoon of 26 March, 2021. 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 and used metal sticks in their attack.
The victim sustained bruising to his back, shoulder, wrist and forearm, and was forced to hand over his phone, wallet, passport, rucksack and even his shoes.
The woman was arrested and charged in connection with the incident, however she was 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 in their police interviews, but claimed they did not use weapons in the attack.
The case went for a Newton hearing and their claim was disproved. At Lewes Crown Court on 15 February this year, they were each sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment in a young offender institution.
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.”