Subway worker cleared of torturing vulnerable woman in Barnstaple

North Devon Gazette

A sandwich shop worker has been cleared of burning a vulnerable woman with a cigarette during a bullying ordeal but found guilty of damaging her clothing.Â

The woman, who has learning difficulties had her head partially shaved and had a bottle, lighters and toys thrown at her while being held against her will at a flat in Barnstaple.Â

Her phone was used to send bogus Snapchat messages in which she appeared to confess to being a liar and a child molester and a foul-mouthed text was sent to her parents.Â

She only escaped from the flat above a restaurant on The Strand after being allowed out to go shopping and taking refuge at a Marks and Spencer store where staff found her crying and in distress.Â

She had two small cigarette burns to her neck, bruising where she had been held by the arms and her shoes were soaked with urine. Â

The victim had been invited to a party at the flat by the tenants but Subway worker Jack Salmon and his friend Aaron Betteridge were also staying overnight.Â

Salmon thought the woman had been ‘slagging him off’ on social media and responded by falsely accusing her of touching her friend’s six-year-old daughter.Â

It was the start of a humiliating and degrading ordeal in which she said she was threatened with a knife and a firework, partially shaved, and forcibly restrained.Â

Salmon told Exeter Crown Court he played no part in the violence and was found not guilty of assault.Â

The jury rejected his claim that he had not urinated in her shoes or soaked her coat with washing up liquid. He was found guilty and will be sentenced later alongside Betteridge.Â

Salmon, aged 21, of Pulchrass Street, Barnstaple, denied causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage to her coat and shoes.Â

Betteridge, aged 24, Victoria Road, Barnstaple, admitted causing actual bodily harm.Â

They will both be sentenced later by Recorder Mr Leslie Blohm, QC.Â

During the trial, the jury heard that the victim was 21 at the time of the attack in November 2019 but is now 23.Â

She was made to sleep on the kitchen floor and then presented with her shoes which were wet. Salmon laughed and said he had peed in them.Â

Salmon told the jury he had shouted abuse at the woman but not assaulted her. He denied writing the fake posts on her social media and said one of the others at the flat had done that.