A ‘VULNERABLE’ man with learning difficulties was beaten repeatedly with a cricket bat and metal bar by three men who pretended to be his friends.

Yesterday brothers Faran and Sohail Abbas and their friends Ross and Christina Walsh were found guilty of conspiring to seriously injure 29-year-old David Busby after a 12-day trial.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Mr Busby, of Accrington, endured a month-long campaign of assaults which eventually resulted in him suffering 14 fractured ribs, a displaced breast bone, a fractured collar bone and extensive bruising and whip marks on his arms, thighs, lower back, chest and kidney area.

The men were found to have used Mr Busby as ‘a punch bag’ while Christina Walsh did nothing to stop the attacks as she watched.

It was not until Mr Busby’s landlord became aware of what was happening that the victim was taken to hospital, where staff contacted police.

The court heard how Mr Busby had frequently visited the Walshes at their Stanley Street home.

They had been helping him with everyday tasks like washing, cleaning and dividing up his benefit money for rent and shopping.

Christina Walsh, 36, was accused of taking money from him for an alleged loan for a pair of ‘£400’ trainers.

The court heard that Ross Walsh, 30, first assaulted Mr Busby by punching and kicking.

Faran Abbas, 18, and Sohail Abbas, 20, would also visit the Walsh house regularly and joined in with the assaults.

The court was told because of his learning disability, Mr Busby could not give an exact timeline.Expert pathologist Dr Naomi Carter said his injuries were caused on multiple, separate occasions and that they were most likely to have been caused by kicks, stamps or very hard punches.

The violence against Mr Busby was only discovered when he was sent to a corner shop where his landlord saw him and took him to hospital.

After initially telling police the injuries were as a result of a fall, Mr Busby later admitted he had been beaten by his friends.

In his summing up, Judge Andrew Woolman read evidence given by Mr Busby.

He said: “I was punched and kicked, I was hit with some weapons, a metal bar and a cricket bat.

“It just suddenly changed one day, I cannot remember what changed.

“I was angry, hurt and scared.”

Prosecuting Joe Boyd said: “Christina and Ross Walsh identified David Busby as a person who was vulnerable as a result of his learning difficulties. Together they exploited him by purporting to offer friendship and practical support whilst in fact taking him in and beating him.

“They just treated him like a punch bag, getting some kind of kick from exercising that control.”

Judge Woolman said: “Whatever his faults, Mr Busby has not done anything to deserve such an assault from anybody.

“It was an unusual and unpleasant case and all four defendants will have to receive substantial custodial sentences.”

After the case DC Helen Mercer said: “It was such a horrific crime.

“The injuries sustained were by people who were so-called carers and were absolutely abhorrent.

“I really do think justice has been served and hopefully the sentence will mirror that.”

All four defendants were remanded in custody while a report on Christina Walsh and a danger risk assessment for Ross Walsh were carried out.

They are due to be sentenced on December 5.

Defence lawyers for all four defendants said their clients were of previous good character and had no previous convictions.

Jo Davies, policy and campaigns officer at learning disability charity Mencap, said: “This is an extremely disturbing case.

“Yet unfortunately this kind of ‘mate crime’ against people with a learning disability is far more common than most people realise.

“Sickening abuse such as that suffered by David must be dealt with seriously.”