Edinburgh crime: Gang who tortured and abducted flatmates in Edinburgh knife ordeal are jailed
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A violent gang who abducted and tortured two flatmates during a four-hour knife ordeal have all been jailed for more than two years.
Alessandro Russo, Maomar Franco and Alberto Castillo bound their victims to chairs with cable ties before holding blades to their necks and threatening to murder them during the horror attack. The three thugs burst into the Edinburgh flat armed with large knives and stole a large sum of cash from one victim.
The trio barricaded the terrified men in a bedroom before fleeing the New Town flat with items including a Nintendo Switch, a mobile phone, a mountain bike and a laptop. Russo, 32, and Castillo, 36, were arrested the following day after the victims reported the attack in October 2021.
Franco, 36, was traced two weeks later after one of the victims spotted him DJing in a city centre Latin-themed nightclub and called police. The three attackers pleaded guilty to abducting, assaulting and robbing victims Jacob Salaet and Daniel Ceballos in their home when they appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court earlier this year.
They returned to the dock for sentencing on Wednesday, May 24, where Sheriff Kenneth Campbell KC said the incident must have been “a terrifying experience” for the two victims. Sheriff Campbell said: “The circumstances I have heard about were very troubling. It was an unprovoked attack on two men with no clear motivation and you were all heavily under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
“The narrative clearly indicates an element of planning and it was a sustained attack. They reported to the police they thought they were going to die. I am satisfied a custodial sentence is the only appropriate sentence in this case.”
Russo, from Musselburgh, and Franco and Castillo, both from Edinburgh, were each jailed for 27 months. Stephen Mannifield, for Russo, said his client has two children and has “successfully dealt with his drug addiction that led to his involvement in this offence”.
Peter Winning, representing Franco, said there had been “no pre planning on his part” and the attack was “completely out of character”. The court also heard Castillo has been working as a kitchen porter and during the attack had been addicted to crack cocaine. His lawyer said her client was no longer using drugs and was “no longer involved in drug dealing”.
Previously prosecutor Ross Price said the two victims were at home in a basement flat in London Street at around midnight on October 27, 2021. Jacob Salaet answered a knock at the door and was confronted by three men who were carrying blades and made “jabbing motions” at his stomach.
Jacob had his hands and feet bound while second victim Daniel Ceballos was “woken by three men by the side of his bed” and had a 15cm blade pointed at his stomach and neck. The gang, who are all Spanish nationals, looted the flat and forced Daniel to transfer £1,391 to a bank account before getting him to hand over £1,715 in cash he had concealed in his bedroom.
Russo warned the pair not to contact police “or they would return and kill them” before barricading the men in a room and fleeing the flat at around 4am.