THE baby-faced leader of a hooded gang which tortured and terrorised a Bodmin family has been jailed by a judge at Truro Crown Court.
Six men wearing balaclavas forced their way into a property at Ringway Flats armed with knives and hammers. They were attempting to extort money for drugs from the couple.
They struck a woman on the head and body and inflicted deep cuts on her male partner.
The gang demanded money and the women's terrified 11-year-old son, who was hiding under a bed, offered them his £4 pocket money to go away.
Ricky Purcell, a slightly-built 20-year-old, considered himself to be "Mr Big'' and told police he was the gang's leader and had planned the attack. He was the only one not wearing a balaclava.
Jailing Purcell, who lived in Bodmin but was of no fixed address, Judge Philip Wassall said it must have been an "absolutely terrifying experience'' for the woman, her son and her partner when the hooded gang forced their way into their flat at lunchtime on February 26.
Purcell, who had pleaded guilty to violent disorder, was defended by Nigel Hall who said that although he considered himself to be "Mr Big" it was a probation officer's opinion it could have been an act of bravado or that he had been under pressure from his older colleagues.
Prosecutor Elaine Hobson said that when the mother went to answer a knock on the door the men barged in and she was pushed into the bathroom and was struck on the head and body. The men were armed with knives and hammers. She cowered down to avoid being hit and shouted to them not to hurt her children.
The men, who had Mancunian or Liverpudlian accents, inflicted deep cuts on her partner's arm in the bedroom where the son hid under the bed.
The men were demanding money, said Miss Hobson, and when the mother said they did not have any, the child offered them his £4 pocket money.
After the incident Purcell handed himself in to the police and said that he had planned the incident and had slashed the man's arm. He denied that it was all to do with drugs.
Miss Hobson revealed that Purcell had one previous conviction in 2009 when he was a juvenile.
Mr Hall submitted that Purcell was young and immature for his age and that he had been exploited. He had refused to name the others involved.
Judge Wassall told Purcell that he had been part of a joint exercise to extort money from the occupants and that it had been to do with drugs.
To see his mother being kicked and beaten and her partner slashed on the arm must have been terrifying for the boy, he added. Purcell was jailed for six years and eight months.
A spokesman for Bodmin CID said detectives were still pursuing the rest of the gang, and praised witnesses who had helped to bring Purcell to justice.
"We are very pleased with the sentence and would like to thank the witnesses who came forward, they were very brave to do so.
"Our enquires in this case are ongoing, and if we receive further information that will help identify the others involved, we will act accordingly," said the detective.