5:00pm Wednesday 4th June 2014
A RETIRED teacher was kept a virtual prisoner for several months in a squalid bedsit and subjected to 'degrading' and 'brutal' abuse, a court heard.
Mohammed Ballal is now starting a 50-month jail sentence after bullying 63-year-old Gerald Kennedy into transferring ownership of his home to someone else and buying a £22,000 sports car.
Preston Crown Court heard that Mr Kennedy was the victim of regular assaults - including being throttled, punched and kicked between the legs, as Ballal treated him as his chauffeur and 'lackey'.
His ordeal only ended when Mr Kennedy was able to escape from the bedsit and confide what had happened to a trusted friend, the court heard.
Ballal, 42, of Southfield Street, Nelson, admitted false imprisonment, fraud and two offences of assault. He was also made the subject of a lifetime restraining order banning him from contacting his victim.
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Prosecutor Paul McDonald, said Ballal had got to know his victim after a friend had began drinking at the man's home.
Mr Kennedy, who used to work at Fisher More High in Colne, was told he could avoid paying money on his mortgage by transferring his home to someone else.
But he was taken, with only five minutes to pack his bags, to a 'pokey' bedsit in Fletcher Street, Nelson, where Ballal had an office.
Mr Kennedy thought he was living there rent free, but events took a more sinister turn, said Mr McDonald.
The victim was informed there had been some delay and he wouldn't 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."
Mr Kennedy 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.
Mr McDonald added: "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 induced Mr Kennedy 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.
Finally Mr Kennedy managed to escaped and went to the home of a longstanding friend in a very distressed state.
Michael Blakey, defending, said Ballal had shown remorse through his guilty pleas, which had spared the victim having to give evidence. The offences were out of character for him.
Mr Blakey said Ballal 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".
Passing sentence, 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," he added.
Speaking after the case Det Con Melissa Kelly said: "Mohammed Ballal controlled and manipulated his vulnerable victim over a five-month period, subjecting him to horrendous physical and psychological abuse on a daily basis.
"It is impossible to imagine the traumatic ordeal the victim faced at the hands of Ballal during this time. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the witnesses in this case for their willingness to stand up and give evidence."
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