A kidnap gang who ‘terrorised, tortured and terrified' their badly beaten victim received a total of 38 years in jail between them.
Marc Williams, 24, from Huntington, had a sawn-off shotgun forced into his mouth, his leg broken by a rock and suffered facial bruising so bad he was "almost unrecognisable".
Luke John Huston, 24, of Allington Place, Handbridge and Stevan Sanders, 25, of no fixed address, will each serve 13 years' imprisonment, following today's hearing at Chester Crown Court.
Kieran Salkeld, 22, formerly of Chester, of Llwyn Alun, Hope, will serve 12 years.
The court heard the defendants targeted Marc Williams following a police raid giving rise to a rumour he may have a large amounts of cash stashed either in his house or his mother's home in Hoole.
Defendant Salkeld also sent a text to his friend Huston on the day of the offence saying he hoped they'd find some "snow", which the prosecution believed was a reference to cocaine.
Prosecutor Gareth Roberts said while the victim appeared to have "some connection with crime" said there was no evidence to back up the ideas in the minds of the defendants.
Victim Mr Williams was eating a pizza at his home around 11.30pm on October 11 last year when he heard an almighty crash as a marble slab crashed through his patio doors and three balaclava-clad men, armed with a sledgehammer, burst in.
He was incapacitated with CS gas and a stun gun, punched and his hands and feet were bound with cable ties before he was dragged to a waiting car. Neighbours heard Mr Williams begging for help.
Mr Williams was then driven to a secluded spot in Acres Lane near Chester Zoo where he was "coming in and out of consciousness".
The men demanded money and backed up their intentions by beating him around the head, dropped a large boulder on his legs and placed a shotgun in his mouth with such force they chipped his front teeth.
At one point the ‘petrified’ victim was dumped, while still bound and barely conscious, into a freezing cold pond.
Mr Roberts said: “Throughout the ordeal the victim describes himself as petrified. He said he was genuinely in fear of his life.”
The men took jewellery from him worth about £700. But Mr Williams was able to recognise the voice of one of the masked men as an old acquaintance he knew by the name of Fenner, an alias for Huston.
Then while Salkeld kept guard, the other two, still wearing balaclavas, visited Mr Williams’ mother’s home in Hoole where they banged on the door and demanded £5,000 from ‘under the sink’. They said they had her son and if she did not cooperate they would ‘finish him off". One of them was waving a knife.
But the ‘terrified’ mother told her teenage daughter to phone police who scrambled the force helicopter which prompted the men to run from the scene empty-handed.
Just a few miles away Salkeld was telling Mr Williams that if his friends didn't get back soon he was "going to get it" but he too later fled.
The victim crawled away from the pond and into the road where he was almost run over found by a passing taxi driver. The cabbie called police and an ambulance after finding Mr Williams freezing, soaking wet, bloody and almost unidentifiable because of the swelling to his eyes and face. He was begging for someone to untie his hands saying he had "no feeling" in them.
Police came across the Nissan Almera used in the kidnap about 12.30am and a car chase followed, involving the Nissan driving the wrong way down the A55 until it came to a halt on the central reservation close to the River Dee.
Huston and Sanders tried to get away by swimming across the Dee. Huston was caught in the river and Sanders was arrested the next day when he turned up at an address where police were already lying in wait.
Salkeld was eventually arrested after being found hiding in the attic at his girlfriend’s home in Northgate Village, where a CS gas cannister was also discovered.
A key was found to a caravan at the Chester Southerly Holiday Park at Marlston Cum Lache.
Inside the caravan was a heavy object wrapped in black bin bags which contained a sawn-off shotgun, five shotgun cartridges and a stun gun.
A forensic examination revealed Salkeld’s DNA on the gun and his fingerprints on the packaging used to wrap it.
At the top of the barrel was the victim's saliva – indicating it had been in his mouth.
Salkeld had pleaded not guilty and was due to face a trial at Chester Crown Court but changed his plea at the 11th hour and admitted kidnap, GBH with intent and possession of an illegal firearm. No evidence was offered in relation to charges concerning possession of a stun gun and CS gas spray.
Judge Roger Dutton sentenced Salkeld to 12 years for the kidnap and an identical sentence for the GBH with intent to run concurrently. He received a 12 month concurrent sentence for possession of an illegal firearm.
Huston and Sanders previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping for which they each received 10 years' imprisonment with an identical sentence for the GBH with intent, also admitted, to run concurrently. The pair had also pleaded guilty to blackmail and were both given two year concurrent sentences.
Sanders received a 12 month consecutive sentence for dangerous driving. Huston admitted possession of a class B drug with intent to supply for which he also received a 12 month consecutive sentence.
Talking about the victim, Judge Dutton told the men: "Perhaps in the end the most serious aspect for him will be the psychological impact of this dreadful incident.
“He did survive and the beating was such that we are to be thankful that he did. He was beaten without mercy, terrorised, tortured and terrified by all three of you. This is an extremely serious act of violence."
Robin Boag, defending Salkeld, said his client should be given credit for his guilty plea. His father accepted he had not been as involved with his son's upbringing during his teenage years in the way that he should. Salkeld's mother had died at a tragically young age.
But Salkeld's father had helped his son "face up" to what he had done and there were "good influences" in his life. He had expressed "genuine remorse" about what had happened.
Desmond Lennon, defending Huston, said his client was "dreadfully sorry and ashamed" of his actions. His record showed he had no previous convictions for "actual violence".
He had addictions to drink and drugs and appeared to have got into debt which may have explained his motivation for getting involved in the plan.
Anna Pope, defending Sanders, said her client should be given "as much credit as the court feels able to give" for his guilty plea. She said Sanders felt "sorry" and "stupid" for getting involved.