A judge has allowed three criminals who seriously injured a man over an unpaid debt to walk free from court, saying their punishment had been waiting almost three years to have their case heard.Abul Azad, 49, Shahedul Bhuyia, 53, and Abul Hannan, 41, were convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to Azad’s former employee Abdul Basit in December 2016.Azad, who owns an Indian takeaway in Plymouth, travelled with his accomplices to Truro to recover a £1,000 debt from Basit, who used to work for him as a chef. During the confrontation they viciously attacked Basit, leaving him with a broken jaw.Judge Simon Carr, sitting at Truro Crown Court, said the offence was certainly serious enough to send the men to prison, but the “very real effect” of having a criminal charge “hanging over” them for two years and nine months was sufficient to teach them a lesson.He said the legal system in England and Wales was “beyond the point of collapse” and that the delay was a “disgrace”.”It’s that punishment that allows me to suspend what would have been immediate custodial sentences,” the judge said.”It’s evidence of a system having gone beyond the point of collapse that a straightforward case takes so long to go before a court.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “He was then spat on again, punched and kicked before the three defendants left.” More than half of all magistrates courts in England and Wales have closed since 2010, making it very difficult for cases to be dealt with quickly and putting the system under increasing strain.Detective Sergeant Mark Jenkin, the officer in charge of the case, admitted outside court following the sentencing hearing that there were delays in getting cases to the Crown Prosecution Service and therefore delays in getting cases to court.Azad and Bhuyia, both of Wolseley Road, Plymouth, and Hannan, of Morshead Road, also in Plymouth, were each given a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years.They must also carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.Prosecutor Hollie Gilbery previously told the court: “The victim is a man named Abdul Basit and in the early hours of December 16, 2016, three gentlemen, the three defendants, went into his room and assaulted him, leaving him with a broken jaw among other injuries.“Mr Basit is a chef and used to work for Mr Azad at his restaurant in Plymouth. Their professional relationship broke down and Mr Basit moved on.“Mr Azad said that Mr Basit took money from him, both stolen and borrowed.”The three defendants walked in and Mr Basit was spat on, told to hand over money and told if he didn’t he would be beaten up and his daughter who was living in Plymouth would be kidnapped.
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