A GANG bundled a man they suspected of being a cannabis dealer into a car and subjected him to a terrifying attack before telling their victim’s landlord they had a gun in the car.

Now, one man has been jailed for two years and five months at Swindon Crown Court for his part in the assault. Two others – including one who was just 17-years-old when he looped a dog chain around the stranger’s neck – have been given six months to prove to the judge they have changed their ways.

Joshua Bird, Antonio Rhoden and Keafer Rutland were part of a group of eight men who surrounded their 29-year-old victim as he walked along White Eagle Road, Haydon End, with his girlfriend and a pal on the evening of June 5 last year.

The court heard the group asked for the man’s bag, believing it contained cannabis.

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Joshua Bird Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

A grey Audi A1 pulled up alongside the group. Two men bundled the victim into the back of the hatchback and threats were made to rape his girlfriend. Bird, 22, was in the driver’s seat, 22-year-old Rutland was on the passenger side and Rhoden, then 17, sat beside the man.

Prosecuting, Chris Smyth said the men grabbed at the bag. When the victim tried to take out his mobile phone to call the police. He was hit over the head with an ice scraper by Rutland before Rhoden tied a dog chain around his neck.

Bird pulled the car over. The two front passenger seats were pulled back and all three landed blows on their victim.

Around six minutes after lifting the man from the street the trio arrived at their victim’s home on Highworth Road, Stratton. The man fled to his house and yelled for help before calling the police and arming himself with a piece of wood.

The victim’s landlord spoke to a member of the group who had got out of the car. The man was told: “Tell him to go and get his gear or we’re all coming in to get it.” The landlord instructed him to get off his property. “If he rings the police we’ll do him. Stay out of it. We’ve got a gun in the car and we’re coming in with it,” the thug replied.

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Keafer Rutland (wearing dark jumper, white shirt and dark trousers) celebrates with a pal outside Swindon Crown Court

The Audi sped off. When police found it on White Eagle Road the large black holdall taken from the victim was still in the car along with the ice scraper.

In a statement read to the court the victim said he had had to move back to his parents’ home in Wales after the assault “to get away from the danger I felt these males posed at the time”. He had been left with relatively minor injuries to his ear and face.

Bird, of Dydale Road, Rhoden, 18, of Abbey View Road, and Rutland, 22 of Kingston Road, Wimbledon, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The men were originally charged with kidnap and the judge ordered that charge would lie on file.

Giles Nelson, for Bird, said the court proceedings had taken a toll on his client’s mental health and he had found being in prison on remand for other matters “absolutely appalling”. He had done well in his studies - even winning an apprentice of the year award while at Swindon College.

Victoria Cornwall, for Rhoden, said her client was just 17 at the time of this incident and had fallen in with older men. He had stayed out of trouble since mid-2018 and would benefit from rehabilitative work with probation.

Henry Dickason, for Rutland, said his client was remorseful, had moved to London since this offence, studied business at college and was now being considered for an assistant manager job at the bed shop chain where he worked.

Sentencing the trio, Judge Jason Taylor QC said of the attack: “It was clearly planned and it was nasty and intimidating.

“What the three of you did to [the victim] has affected his nerves, his sleep, his appetite and his life generally.”

Bird was jailed for 29 months. Rutland and Rhoden had their sentences deferred until May 22, with conditions to obtain or remain in employment, commit no further offences, comply with any probation instructions and save money.