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    Gang rapist's tough sentence hailed

    Community and political leaders said justice had been done after a judge sentenced the ringleader of a series of gang rapes to 55 years imprisonment.

    In one of the longest sentences handed down in NSW criminal history, Judge Michael Finanne of the Sydney District Court sentenced the 20-year-old man, who cannot be named, to a minimum of 40 years for the gang rapes of four women two years ago.

    NSW Premier Bob Carr said the tough sentence would stand as a major deterrent.

    "Justice has been served," he said in a statement.

    The President of the Australian Lebanese Association, Mr Philip Rizk, said the community was happy the full treatment of the law had been handed down.

    "If you commit a crime beyond imaginable human behaviour, you should be put away and the key thrown away," he told the Daily Telegraph.

    The announcement of the sentence by Judge Finnane triggered mass hysteria among the man's family in the court, his mother becoming hysterical before collapsing and being taken away in an ambulance.

    Judge Finnane said the prisoner and his gang treated their victims "much like wild animals treat prey they had just killed".

    The man will be eligible for parole in 2040 for his 21 offences committed against the victims, then aged between 16 and 18.

    He cannot be named until his brother is sentenced in relation to two of the rapes.

    Victim impact statements submitted by three of the women outlined the terror of their ordeal.

    "My captors took from me my security, my self-worth, my trust and very nearly, my life," one victim said in her statement.

    Another said she could no longer trust men after eight gang members took turns in defiling her.

    "I know that no matter what happens in my life I will never be able to forget what they did to me that night and will constantly live in fear that they will seek revenge," she said.

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